TWENTIETH CENTURY IMPRESSIONS OF BURMA. 81
conch-shell, the guests throw many-coloured rice at the happy pair and at each other. The bride and bridegroom are then escorted to the door of the room which they are henceforward to occupy, and put in formal possession. Meanwhile, the guests are sumptuously fed, and in the evening, and perhaps for several days afterwards, there will be open-air dramatic performances and other entertainments. At the present day, wealthy and ostentatious parents hold great receptions, usually in a public hall, and distribute valuable gifts among the guests. This, however, is not the Burmese custom, being merely copied from Indian residents ; the Burmese expression for marriageaein-taungasignifies the foundation of a new household, and the recently adopted custom of spending large sums of money in display, instead of in giving as much as possible to the young couple, often leads to debt and misery. Another custom in connection with marriage is the demand by the young bachelors of the neighbourhood of a tax to provide amusements for themselves ; this is called ge-bo (stone-money), from the fact that when the money is not soon forthcoming, a reminder is sent in the shape of a rain of stones on the bridal dwelling. No harm is meant or done, and wherever the old communal life has survived the imposition is not objected to ; but in the case of people living in the modern isolated fashion
resented as an impudent extortion and prosecution is resorted to.
It is usual for the bridegroom to reside for a year or two at the house of the brideas parents, until the pair are well settled down
to conjugal life, and then a separate dwelling is set up.
Polygamy is not prohibited by the law, and even at the present day there are many to
ments. The chief wife, the one married first, does not nowadays permit her husband
to keep a lesser wife in the same house as herself, but the latter, and children by her have a right to inherit, though not to the
same extent. Many respectable people now condemn the institution, and the course of recent judicial decision has been distinctly against it.
Divorce is as easily effected as marriage when both parties agree to sever the marital tie; all that is necessary is to inform the elders and other respectable people known to both, and they are free to marry again. Where one party dissents, the law is invoked, and it is necessary to prove sufficient legal grounds for divorce. In spite, however, of the ease with which divorce may be effected it is comparatively very rare, and the parties usually come together again after a brief separation when they have had time to cool down. One peculiar custom is noticeable, the pretended divorce, jo-beay nan-beay (to satisfy the stars). When one or the other is very ill, or trade is bad, or for some unascertainable reason things persistently go wrong, an astrologer is consulted, and if he declares that the astarsa of the husband are exerting an evil influence 011 the wife, or vice-versa, a temporary divorce is effected and the parties separate for a brief period until the stars are in a better position.
Religion.aBefore proceeding to deal with the social habits of the people, it is necessary that their religious beliefs should first be explained, because these enter very largely into the daily life, so much so that it is hard
SHAN DEER DANCE.
as is usual in large towns, the practice is be found who maintain two or more establish-
BURMESE MUSICIANS.BURMESE MUSICIANS.