Myanmar is made up of a large number of ethnicities (135), dominated by the Bamar people living principally in most regions of the country. The rich culture of Myanmar reflects its ethnic diversity and difference. The ancient cultures of the Burmese people have been infused with that of its neighbors and domineering world powers. In particular, over the centuries Myanmar has seen sustained immigration from China and India. Over 100 languages are spoken in Myanmar spanning 135 distinct ethnic groups but official language is Burmese. The Bamar make up the majority of the population, roughly around 69%. Widespread throughout the country, the Bamar heartland was traditionally the fertile plains of the Ayeyarwady Delta which has been to be the largest rice-bowl.
Actually, Burma is also one of Myanmar Eight Main National Races and those people have been living with other main races like Kachin, Kayar, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakkhine and Shan in the nation-wide. Myanmar is comprised of seven regions and seven states. More than 130 racial races including ethnic trines have been living together unitedly with each other by holding with their owned tradition, culture, foods and dresses. Totally, more than a hundred languages are spoken. Since many of them are known only within small tribes around the country, they may have been lost (many if not all) after a few generations. Burmese is the mother tongue and official language of Myanmar, is related to Tibetan and Chinese. It is written in a script consisting of circular and semi-circular letters, which were adapted from the Mon script. The earliest inscription in the Burmese script date from the 11th century. It is also used to write Pali, the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, as well as other languages, including Pyu, Mon and Burmese. Earliest people in Myanmar called the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states can be seen in the Upper Burma. In 9th century ago, the Burma people came to the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan (Bagan) Kingdom in 1050s, the real Burmese language, culture and Theravada Buddhism slowly became influent in the country.
The Shan are the second biggest national races and they refer to themselves as ‘Tai’, sharing the same ethnicity, as well a similar language and culture, of the people of Thailand and Laos. They occupy amazing Inle Lake, colorful town (Kalaw), Pindaya cave, different products and culture of tribes and historic site (kakku). Their capital city is Taungyi which is the perfect city in various sectors and clean city.
The Mon were one of the earliest comers to Myanmar, and formerly the second largest force in the land after the Burmese. Shwedagon Pagoda was built by the Mon in the old fishing village of Dagon. In their state, Mt Kyaikhtiyo has been one of the largest pilgrimage site and religious tour destination and the capital of which is Mawlamyine. Setse beach and other popular historic and cultural sites are attracting travelers and visitors in the country as well as worldwide.
The Kayin or ‘Karen’ are estimated to number between 4 and 7 million, spread over linguistically and culturally diverse smaller ethnic groups. Their capital city is Hpa-an which is rich in natural caves, hot-springs, traditions of ethnic people and including Mt.Zekabin.
The Kayah are principally found in the beautiful and mountainous Kayah State. They are estimated to make up only 0.5% of the Myanmar people, and live primarily agrarian lives. This state is one the most peaceful region filling with friendly races, natural streams, lakes, and including Taungkwe Zedi and its mountain.
The Chin refer to themselves as the ‘Zo-mi’ or ‘Lai-mi’, both of which mean ‘mountain people or hill tribes’. They incorporate a variety of ethnicities and the Chin language is an amalgamation of these. Although principally Christian, Chin State also has the highest proportion of animists in Myanmar. Making tattoos in their face is the most significant identity. Although the accessibility is a little difficult to get there, it is very famous for its races culture, untapped natural beauty, heart-shaped lake, Natmatuang ASEAN Heritage Park. Birding, hiking, trekking, observation wildlife is very perfect for adventure and nature-like travelers.
The Kachin State is located at the northern part of the country and this state is very wonderful with its amazing snow-capped mountains, Hponekanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary, Kharkarborazi Natinal Park, Hu Kaung Valley (the world biggest tiger conservation area), Indawgyi Biosphere Reserve, tribes’ culture and traditions. Many other historical site like Katha and Tagaung beside the Ayeyarwaddy River.
The Rakhine to the west of the country share much of their culture, in particular food and music. Principally Buddhist, the (or Arakanese) claim to be among the first followers of Buddha in Southeast Asia. This state has the world famous beach called Ngapali, ancient city called Myauk U, and other interesting aspects of tourist destinations.
When visiting the village of the ethnicities that make up these eight principal ethnic groups, it is hard to keep up with the stream of different customs and beliefs that each hold. An estimated 87.9% of the Myanmar people are Buddhist. Freedom of faith is enshrined in the constitution. The country practices Theravada Buddhism, differing from the Mahayana (Large Vehicle) school, in believing that the individual strives to go to the nirvana, the ultimate goal of Buddhism. Travelers to Myanmar are initially taken aback by the ardency of Buddhism in Myanmar, in particular the sheer numerous pagodas, glittering like golden nipples at the summit of every hillock, fields, in every villages and around every street corner.
So long as they remain respectful, visitors to Myanmar are encouraged to visit the pagodas of the country and join in with any celebrations taking place. For all their sanctity, these sites hold little severity, seemingly serving as a meeting point for friends and families as much as a place for meditation and reflection. If in Myanmar during the full moon, it is worthwhile paying a visit to a pagoda in the evening, there to witness the religious activities like the scattered procession of the pious of all ages ringing bells, lighting incense, making donations, laughing, smiling and reveling in the occasion.
It is believed that there were 36 nats at the time of King Anawrahta, founder of Bagan. Recognizing that nat worship was too prevalent to be easily expelled, in Anawrahta’s attempts for Theravada Buddhism to become the predominant Myanmar religion, he shrewdly added a 37th nat, Thagyamin, a Hindu deity based upon Indra, the supreme Deva and lord of Svargaloka, a level of heaven in Hinduism. Therefore, the complex world of the nat is becoming less and less familiar to younger generations.
As Myanmar opens up to the world and globalization is embraced with dramatic changes in politic, many of the peculiar and idiosyncratic features of the Myanmar customs and culture may come under threat, slowly being pushed into the shadows or sustained only as tourist attractions. There are expectation that the base poverty so many in rural Myanmar have lived in for generations can begin to be seriously tackled; and a rejuvenated relationship with the wider world offers greater opportunities for the ambitious bright young things of Myanmar. Myanmar culture can be seen at the seasonal and pagoda festivals, noviatiation ceremony, naming and earing boring ceremony and other occasional period
Come and see with Mandalay In Bloom (MIB) Travel to touch with colorful Myanmar culture yourself.