seven days of the week, e.g., ka, kha, ga, gha and nga stand for Monday, sa, tsa, za, zha, and nya for Tuesday, pa, pha, ba, bha, and ma for Thursday, and so on. So that if a boy were born on Tuesday and a girl on Thursday, names like Maung Sein or Maung Zaw, and Ma Pyu or Ma Mya, respectively, might be given. The words Maung and Ma (master or mister, and miss, respectively), are always put before the name to indicate the sex and as courteous prefixes. Names including two words (besides the
prefix), e.g., Maung Tha Kin, Maung Po Tet, Maung Ba Shin, Ma San May, Ma Ngwe Bwin; Ma Pwa Myit, are common, while names with three or more words are rare, except among the Arakanese. Burmese is a monosyllabic tongue, and each word of a name may have a meaning; but it is a mistake to suppose, as some writers have done, that names are generally or necessarily
given with reference to such meanings, though in some cases this is done, e.g., Maung Ba ChitaMaster Fatheras Love, or Ma Pwa ThetaMiss Grandmotheras Life. Nowadays, names are often selected at random, or to suit individual fancy, or a child may be named after some well-known personage. [It may be mentioned here that, later in life, the prefix Maung or Ma may be changed. Thus a man, aged roughly between 20 and 35, will be indicated by the prefix Ko (elder brother), and one aged 30 or upwards may be
called U (uncle), e.g., Ko Ba Khine, U Tha Lu. Similarly, a lady of middle-age might be called Daw (aunt), e.g., Daw Saw. These are courteous prefixes, and are absolutely necessary when referring to the names of seniors in age or social position. Similar prefixes, Po (grandfather), used for old men, and Pwa (grandmother), for old women, are now rarely met with. Another peculiarity is that
a lady does not change her name on marriage, but retains her own name throughout life, and there is no equivalent to the English Mrs.]
An infant is often given an opprobrious or offensive epithet, such as Kwav-galay (little dog), or Wet-ma (miss pig), and some retain the name through life. Such names are given to weak and ailing children, and to a child born of a mother who has lost her previously-born children in infancy, in order (such is the belief) to ensure health and strength ; the idea is that if the parents are over anxious they may lose the child, but if they pretend to be indifferent and call the child a little dog or a pig (insignificant beings) it may survive. Another way of ensuring long life is to pretend to give away the child in adoption or to sell it for a nominal price to some aged relative, usually a grandmother or grand-aunt.
The Burmese child does not grow up in the seclusion of a nursery, but from its second or third month is taken about everywhere its mother goes, except to funerals. It is never in the way, and wherever it goes there is no want of young women gladly willing to assist in taking care of it, especially in the quarter where its parents reside. It is not at all unusual for a mother to leave an infant child to the care of neighbours when she has other urgent matters to attend to. Thus, except for a few hours of play together with other children, a boy or girl spends a great proportion of its time in the company of elders, and accordingly learns a great deal of life and its little ways long before its contemporaries in Western lands are allowed to come out.
The great episode of childhood is, in the case of a boy, the ceremony of entering a monastery for a time, and in the case of a girl, the ear-boring ceremony. The former is a custom which is perhaps without a parallel in any other country, and has both a religious and a worldly significance. From the time of his birth a boyas parents eagerly look forward to the day when their son is to become a member of the venerable Sangha or brotherhood of monks. When the boy is between fourteen and eighteen an auspicious day is chosen and he is sent round, dressed as a prince, to take leave of his relations and friends prior to his forthcoming renunciation of the world. Next morning he is taken to the monastery, and, amidst a gathering of guests, the High Priest ordains him as a novice (Ko-yin) ; his head is shaven, he adopts the yellow robe of the ascetic, a priestly name is bestowed on him, and he is henceforward cut off from the worldly
BURMESE TRAVELLING RESTAURANT.BURMESE TRAVELLING RESTAURANT.