Burma’s Strange Customs and Beliefs
Burma is known as the Golden Land but the attraction, the mystique is more than just the breath taking pagodas scattered in its rich land. The real essence of Burma lies in its people. Its unique culture and tradition have largely been preserved from the influences of the outside world. Some of these traditions are superstitions that have survived centuries and are still widely practiced. In the heart of every Burmese man or woman, regardless of social strata and attainment, lies that ingrained belief in the spirits, ghosts, omen and witches.
The number 9, is revered in Burma. It is believed to be bestowed with mystical influence. The numeral 9 in Burmese language is termed as ko, which means “to seek shelter from God”. It is noteworthy that in 1987, the famous general who was in power as authorized new coinage of 45 and 90 kyat, incidentally both can be divided by 9. Significant government and official events are planned for days of the month that would add up to the numeral 9.
Omens of both good and evil surround Burmese life. Almost everyday things are given importance from the waning and waxing of the moon, the wood that their houses are built, the facets of the sun to the chirping of the birds to the howling of the dogs. The sudden involuntary movement of one’s own body also has meanings.
For instance, if the sun rises with an unusual brilliance, it is said that there will be war. It is also considered unlucky if one gets married on months when the planet Venus is not visible in the sky. When any of the planetary objects approach the disc of moon, or if any would pass over it, the Burmese people believe it is an omen of destruction of countries.
The natives also have a way of divining lawsuit results. Burmese locals would make little figures out of rice. One would stand for an ox, the other, a lion and then the third, an elephant. These rice figures are exposed to birds and whichever is eaten foretells the fate. If it is the ox, an agreement will be reached by the parties concerned. If a lion is picked, then the case will be seen as a sign of triumph. However, should the elephant figure be picked by the birds, then it is a sign of ill luck.
Mercury balls also play a strange part in the Burmese belief. It is widely acceptable to have mystic protective powers same with charms and even certain tattoo designs. Animal sacrifice offered to both the nats and demon spirits is also a common divination practice. Chicken sacrifices are most common where almost all bone parts would account to some kind of foretelling.
There is that imperceptibly strange pull and conviction that there exists a realm filled with magic, mysticism and in the unseen. Where the beings wield strange, supernatural influences and have control over the most mundane matters. Their power is so great that they need to be appeased to gain their favour.