Ten years ago a German friend of ours met 5 year-old Maung Chit Swe
at the jetty of Bagan. He arranged transfers and they traded ball-point pens.
Since then, he has been so impressed that he never
lost contact with this little businessman.
Chit Swe, third-youngest son among 11 children,
lives in Taung Bi, a small village near Bagan.
He attended primary school, and of course helps his
father at the peanuts field on one of the little
islands in the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Now, at 15 years of age, time came for him to be
novitiated. But his parents could not afford
their son's Shin Pyu, the ordination ceremony of
a Buddhist novice into the order of monks, the
Sangah. Buddhist parents never feel the
importance of being parents so much as when the
time comes to send their son as monk to a
monastery for a period of time.
As our friend's birthday was coming soon he decided to
become the donor of the Shin Pyu Ceremony of his
friend Maung Chit Swe. The parents were exited
about this and all was arranged for the big day
to come in a short time. Yellow robes and all the
paraphernalia of novices were bought and on the
appointed day we arrived at the village. The
welcoming 'umbrella man' with his transportable
orchestra and his huge gramophone - blasting
traditional percussion music - made sure that
latest now everybody knew that there was a Shin
Pyu Ceremony going on.
And there were the proud parents next to their
son whom we did not recognize anymore. In a
beautifully, princely robe of white silk and
gold, on a decorated horse's back, the gilded
umbrella covering his head, he looked with a
serious face down to us. The procession thus
started, the dancing 'umbrella man' leading,
hundreds of villagers following to one of the
oldest teak monasteries in the Bagan area.
Surrounded by shady trees, the monastery's
compound well kept, we finally arrived at the
novice's destination. There was our prince -
sitting on a red velvet sofa, surrounded by the
donors and family members.
Last pictures were
taken, before the shaving knife of the monk
touched the boy's head. The parents held a
snow-white sheet to receive his hair, which they
intended to bury near a pagoda. Only we heard the
our friends speaking: "Poor boy, poor
boy, now he is bald!". Luckily his parents
did not hear that, because for them it was the
happiest day in their life.
Chit Swe was led to the chief monk, U Than Wara,
who was to be his teacher during his 10 days stay
at the Nat Htaung Monastery.
With the yellow robe
in both hands, he begged permission in Pali to be
novitiated, promising not to lie, steal, kill,
interfere with wives or daughters, gossip or
speak rudely, sing or dance, drink alcohol, or
eat in the afternoon.
His worldly attire was changed and there he stood
looking pure and serene in his yellow robe. Now
it was time for the parents to paying respect and
they knelt down at his feet and paid obeisance to
him, with their hands clasped palm to palm and
raised to touch their foreheads. Their eyes were
filled with tears of joy - what more can a
Buddhist parent ask for?