I might be exaggerating if I say that I see some sort of street parade every single day when I’m in Myanmar, but it sure seems like it! If not every day, I certainly come across some sort of parade or procession a couple of times each week every time I’m in the country.
Sometimes the procession might be for a wedding, a noviciation (Shin Pyu) ceremony, part of a full moon festival, or for making donations to a local monastery. When I was in the Shan State town of Nyaungshwe last month, I was fortunate to witness a very colorful little parade one afternoon. Young girls were dressed in their finest, complete with makeup and lipstick, and teenage girls walked down the main street of town attired similarly. Groups of young boys were also part of the procession, some of them also dressed up in frilly clothes and sporting makeup. What was that all about? Well, this was part of a traditional Shin Pyu ceremony, where the boys are paraded through the streets (one riding a horse!) before going back to the monastery, whereupon they have their head shaved and they will become a novice monk for a week or longer.
The procession in Nyaungshwe included a few adults too, some of whom were driving trishaws full of donations, along with a small marching band. It was an entertaining and colorful spectacle, yet another fascinating example of the unique way of life in Myanmar.