Traveling to Myanmar is special as the Burmese culture in this enigmatic country is different from elsewhere. The books of culture and religion in Myanmar need years to read over, and this post will draw your focus to the unique Buddhist Novitiation ceremony or Shin Pyu or the ceremony for boys (often under 20 years old) to do their services to Buddhism and live a Buddhist monk for a week or longer.

Shin Pyu in Myanmar
Shin Pyu in Myanmar

Unique Shin Pyu Ceremony to be a Buddhist Monk from a Child

Children in Myanmar are required to practice the monks’ life before they decide to officially become the Buddhist monk or return to their homes and live as the laypeople. The Buddhist Novitiation ceremony is the most important event in the life of a Burmese individual. To them, especially the males, since their birth, if they have not entered into the orders of the monks, lived in the pagodas or monasteries, then they are not the good Buddhist. In their belief, families with the kids that have participated in the Shin Pyu ceremony will receive spiritual mercy and the good afterlife in the Buddhist tradition.

Early morning on the day, parents will take their children to the meeting points in the village. A group of around 15 boys and girls of 5 – 15 years old who have been prepared with makeups and traditional Burmese dresses (the green, yellow, blue, and pink satin costumes) will gather at the designated points for start the ritual to enter the monkhood. Know that the elaborate costumes symbolize the look of the royal prince.  The organizer will make speeches about the Buddhist Novitiation ceremony in Myanmar and ask for donations in order to buy clothing and bowls for the monastics.

After the speeches, the children will be brought onto the horses which are also decorated colorfully, and together walk around the village. The ceremony aims to follow the Buddha’s path. Meanwhile, music will be played to encourage people to give offerings. Also, the Burmese parents will feel so proud of their kids. Followed the colorfully-decorated horses are the girls who are holding the flower baskets, as well as lines of family members that together head towards the pagoda/monastery of the village. Note that the horse riding ceremony is only common in the villages. In the city like Yangon, parents use cars to take their kids to the pagodas.

In the monastery, kids and their parents will listen to the monks’ lessons on the benefits of the Buddhist Novitiation ceremony. Then, kids will be tonsured and dressed as a monk to become “the little Sadi.” The Sadi will possess no belonging, dress the maroon robes, have the shaven head, and walk barefoot around collecting alms in every early morning. On the rest of the day, they will study the Burmese and other subjects related to the Buddhism teachings.

Buddhist Novitiation Ceremony in Myanmar
Tourists attend to a Buddhist Novitiation Ceremony on Myanmar Tour Itinerary

The Buddhist Novitiation Period in Myanmar

The duration of leaving one’s home to become a monk or a nun can vary from several days to weeks or years, and a person can have the Buddhist Novitiation ceremony many times. After that, they can decide either to follow the monastic life or return home. Every month, the monastery specifies a day for people to “desacralize” or return to their normal life.

Often, the Shin Pyu Ceremony in Burma takes place in March – April every year, when it’s likely to see lines of the ceremony participants on the local streets. More than 3000 people from communities across Kalaw joined the event of over 100 boys and girls entering into the order of the monks. The celebration will end with a satisfying feast. This is always one of the most attractive events that appeal to tourists who are touring around Myanmar.