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Friday, April 17, 2015

AtoZBlogChallenge: O is for Offerings


It only takes a minute to visit more on AtoZers on the Linky.


My theme this year is Burma AKA Myanmar. I used to live in Laos so I looked forward to returning to Southeast Asia. I spent a little over three weeks exploring this country, learning a bit about its culture: its history, religion, and language. I thought others might enjoy some of what I learned and see some of what I saw. 

Flowers is the third offering to signify the awakening to the beauty around you.

Buddists' offerings are the way to disconnect from attachment to material things and greed. All offerings are done in sevens. Seven bowls and seven meanings for the offerings.

These are the offerings with VERY brief explanations about their significance. I hope the Buddists will forgive these simple explanations.


  1. Drinking Water: (I saw many containers of water at the entrance to the shrines and asked why.) Offering #1 is to bring the end of suffering through thirst.
  2. Bathing Water: Those who offer this water gain merit and dissolve interference with meditation.
  3. Flowers: These are meant to awaken all who see them to beauty around them. 
  4. Incense: This eliminates sour, unhealthy smells and invites others to a place where all smell are fragrant.
  5. Light: Lamps or candles bring light to the world, so all will gain knowledge and enlightenment.
  6. Perfume: These scents interrupt, if only for a short time) the negative patterns of things like aggression, ignorance and attachment.
  7. Food: This is to relieve suffering of hunger and bring into focus food in abundance, so meditation will not be interrupted.

Here's a friend with her offering of flowers.
Answers to N
F 1. All women in Burma are required to become nuns and follow the tradition of what is called the bhikkhunis. (No. But it is something many choose to do. And it's common for younger girls to sign on during vacation time. I've read that an estimated 30,000 women are wearing the pink robe these days.)

F 2. Nuns have an equal status with monks. (Not quite. They're missing what is called "bhun" (glory or power), which is supposed to be stronger in men than in women. But women in Burma wield a lot of power, especially in the matter of family finance.)

NOW what do you know about offerings?

T/F 1. People believe that giving offerings buys them a place in Nirvana.
T/F 2. Offerings are a way to pay respects to the wisdom of Buddha or the Dharma, the Truth.

Answers tomorrow.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

AtoZBlogChallenge:N is for Nuns

Join in the fun! 
It only takes a minute to visit more on AtoZers on the Linky.


My theme this year is Burma AKA Myanmar. I used to live in Laos, so this was a return to Southeast Asia that I looked forward to. I spent a little over three weeks exploring this country, learning a bit about its culture: its history, religion, and language. I thought others might enjoy some of what I learned and see some of what I saw.
Nuns' Robes are a Brilliant Pink


There are about 30,000 Nuns in modern Burma. They're called Sila-Rhan meaning "owners of virtue." While all male Buddists become either novice monks when they're children or monks when they are adults, not all females are compelled to enter the monastery, even for a brief period. 

On this day, I was in a market and the Nuns came through singing with their begging bowls. I contributed 50Kyat (pronounced CHAT) to their bowl and snapped a picture. I wish I had the singing to share. It was a beautiful chant.




Burma is all about Color, Even in Nun Robes
Young Nun Shopping
Answer to M
T 1. Mandalay was the last royal capital in Burma. (When the British took over Burma, they exiled King Thibaw and Queen Supayalat. There would never be another royal capital in Burma after November 1885.)

T 2. Mandaly was occupied by the Japanese for three years following a heavy air assault on the city. (The Japanese destroyed over half of the homes in Mandalay and sent people fleeing into the countryside. The conquerors remained in control from 1941 to 1945.)

NOW what do you know about nuns in Burma?
T/F 1. All women in Burma are required to become nuns and follow the tradition of what is called the bhikkhunis. 

T/F 2. Nuns have an equal status with monks.

Answers tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

AtoZBlogChallenge:M is for Money, Mandlay and Markets


It only takes a minute to visit more on AtoZers on the Linky.

My theme this year is Burma AKA Myanmar. I used to live in Laos, so this was a return to Southeast Asia that I looked forward to. I spent a little over three weeks exploring this country, learning a bit about its culture: its history, religion, and language. I thought others might enjoy some of what I learned and see some of what I saw.
10,000 Kyat


Money is called Kyat /chat/ 1,000 Kyat is $1. In Burma they'll take dollars, but they prefer fives and larger bills. If your bills are torn or in any way damaged, they're not acceptable, so you have to carry new bills if you want to spend US currency. The Kyat are often in really bad shape.  




Palace Grounds in Mandalay


Mandalay is one of most beautiful cities I visited. It's very modern and its gardens invite you to stroll, even on a steamy day. It's the second-largest city in Burma and was the last royal capital. It's north of Yangon and sits on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River. Over a million people live here.
Downtown Mandalay
Mandalay Street Vendor
The Markets of Burma are a sensory overload. They're always filled with color and scents of the most wonderful spices and cooked foods. Then there's the reality of markets with freshly killed animals. Their meat doesn't come in tidy plastic wrap.
Each tribe has a unique scarf to mark them as members of that group.
Some bargaining going on here.
Market Restaurant

Fresh Chickens



Spices by the pound.

Have you traveled or lived in places to experience the challenges of everyday details like money, or line protocol or how to say hi/goodbye?  Have you been in cultures that do things so much differently than your own? If so, you've learned a lot about the world you live in. Where have you traveled or lived in this world?

Answer to L
T 1. Untreated sewage has become a problem for the health of the lake. (72% of the households use open pit latrines, and now with tourism booming, the government has some major scrambling to do to upgrade the infrastructure and handle the influx of travelers.)

NOW what do you know about Mandlay?

T/F 1. Mandalay was the last royal capital in Burma.

T/F 2. Mandaly was occupied by the Japanese for three years following a heavy air assault on the city.

Answers tomorrow.