among the Burmese people has no connection with religion ; it is purely a civil contract founded on mutual consent. There is no courtship as is understood in Western countries, because, in spite of the liberty of women peculiar to the country, the free intermingling of the youth of opposite sexes is not permitted. Young men and women may talk and laugh together in company, but private interviews are unknown. Even under the old system, now fast dying out, when maids were allowed to receive visits from young men, the couple sat in the guest room under supervision, and their conversa-
take the matter into their own hands, arrange with a go-between to transmit secret correspondence, and finally run off together ; they are generally forgiven. Early marriages are rare, except in Arakan, where girls at fourteen and boys at eighteen are often given in marriage. Grown up people, of course, can manage their own affairs, and, where one or the other has been married before they may easily arrange a union without assistance. No ceremony is necessary, law and custom merely require that there should be a generally known taking of one another as man and wife, and living together openly
chiefly to choose an auspicious day and hour for the ceremony. The bridegroom is escorted by his friends to the brideas residence, where the latteras lady friends at first refuse him admission ; he finds a gold or jewelled chain drawn across the entrance, and he must pay liberally, according to his means, before he is allowed to enter. This money, together with other payments made by the bridegroom, go towards providing dramatic entertainments for the neighbourhood. When the whole company is assembled, the bride and bridegroom are brought forth, and made to sit near each other in the midst of all ;
i. BURMESE STATE BARGE. 2. BURMESE RACING BOATS. 3. VILLAGE BUFFALO CART. 4. FESTIVAL CART.
tion was on ordinary topics. It remained with the parents on both sides to approve of a match. And at the present day most marriages are arranged by the old people, in some cases the pair knowing each other by sight only. Filial obedience, and a universal mistaken belief in destiny, account for the general acquiescence in such arrangements, and, as a matter of fact, comparatively few marriages result otherwise than in mutual love and happiness. But the little blind god is admittedly ubiquitous, and cases are not rare where the young people
as such ; the evidence of a lawful union consists of a living and eating together.a But it is not to be supposed that such a pleasure-loving race would let slip such an excellent opportunity for feasting and amusements. Some kind of social ceremony is performed, differing in different parts of the country. A ponna (brahmin) usually presides ; but this has no peculiar significance, and is merely the result of the peopleas acquaintance with the Pali literature, containing stories of life in India in pre-Buddhistic times ; he is an astrologer, and is called in
they make obeisance to the elders of both families, and presents are bestowed on them for their joint use. A strip of white cloth or a piece of white thread is then wound round them to signify their union, after which water is poured over their joined right hands while the brahmin recites a formula expressing a wish that the pair may never be parted. Next, some light confection is placed before the couple, and each partakes of a little to signify aeating together.a This concludes the actual ceremony, and while the brahmin blows histhey make obeisance to the elders of both families, and presents are bestowed on them for their joint use. A strip of white cloth or a piece of white thread is then wound round them to signify their union, after which water is poured over their joined right hands while the brahmin recites a formula expressing a wish that the pair may never be parted. Next, some light confection is placed before the couple, and each partakes of a little to signify a eating together.a This concludes the actual ceremony, and while the brahmin blows his