Shinlaung hlè pwe (ရှင်လောင်းလှည့်ပွဲ, procession), part of Shinbyu (Novitiation ceremony) 出家剃度儀式
The first minute we walked in the premises of Shwedagon Pagoda, I noticed that there were quite a few processions in progress, folks dressed in their Sunday best were holding gold umbrellas shading young kids dressed in elaborate costumes. I followed one procession for a while and believed that was the shinlaung hlè pwe (ရှင်လောင်းလှည့်ပွဲ), part of the Shinbyu ceremony which is the Burmese term for a novitiation ceremony. It is said that boys have to spend time in a monastery to serve as a monk, it is not uncommon for some to practice several times before resuming a non-religious career.
緬甸有88%的人口信奉南傳佛教, 絕大部份男性在一生之中至少會出家一次, 對於有男孩的家庭, 為孩子辦一像樣的出家儀式是一家的大事, 能夠送孩子出家一段時間, 被認為是父母能給孩子最好的禮物。对於没有男孩子的家庭, 很多家庭會資助一孤兒男孩或幫助一窮家男孩進行出家儀式, 是一項大功德。當我們踏入大金塔境內, 不期然發現頗多的遊行隊伍。成年男仕提着金色傘, 女仕抱着各樣禮儀用品, 列隊行進。將被剃度的男孩, 盛裝成太子模樣, 仿效當年佛祖捨棄太子的身份, 榮華富貴的生活, 剃度出家, 普渡眾生。
Wikipedia: “Shinbyu (Burmese: ရှင်ပြု; MLCTS: hrang pru.; pronounced [ʃɪ̀ɴbjṵ], also spelt shinpyu) is the Burmese term for a novitiation ceremony (pabbajja) in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, referring to the celebrations marking the sāmaṇera (novitiate) monastic ordination of a boy under the age of 20.
It is deemed the most important duty that parents owe to their son by letting him go forth and embrace the legacy of Gautama Buddha, join the sangha and become immersed in the teachings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, at least for a short while, perhaps longer if not for the rest of his life. A boy may become a novice on more than one occasion, but by the age of twenty there will be another great occasion, the upasampada ordination, in which the boy becomes a fully ordained bhikkhu (ပဉ္စင်း bazin). Those who are not blessed with a male child will seek for an orphan boy or a boy from very poor families in order to receive this special dispensation by the Buddha and hence gain great merit by the act. Shinbyu may well be regarded as a rite of passage or coming of age ceremony as in other religions. Allowing a son to spend some time however short it may be, in a kyaung (Burmese Buddhist monastery) is regarded by most Burmese Buddhists as the best religious gift that his parents can give him and it is believed to have a lasting effect on his life.
The royal outfit worn by novitiates-to-be before being samanera ordination, to re-enact Rahula’s rejection of a princely life in exchange for a life of self-detachment.”
⇑ A happy Novitiate-to-be dressed in traditional prince attire, including a salwe, was standing next to his proud parent (?) holding gold lotus and other requisites for the ceremony.
Wikipedia: “The big day starts early with a procession called the shinlaung hlè pwe (ရှင်လောင်းလှည့်ပွဲ) to the monastery, the young boy dressed in resplendent silks embroidered with gold as a royal prince or king, shielded from the sun by a gold umbrella and led on horseback by an orchestral band headed by a clown with a moustache called U Shwe Yoe holding a parasol and dancing merrily. This ritual symbolises Prince Siddhartha’s departure from the royal palace with its sensuous pleasures and luxuries at the age of twenty nine, leaving his wife and newborn son in search of the Four Noble Truths. Behind his horse follows the family, his proud parents carrying the monastic robes and other eight requisites, called pareihkara shippa (ပရိက္ခရာရှစ်ပါး) and his sisters or young village maidens carrying ceremonial boxes of paan (ကွမ်းတောင်ကိုင် kundaung gaing) and lotus blossoms (ပန်းတောင်ကိုင် pandaung gaing) all in their best silks with the rest of the joyous party completing the procession. The Shwedagon Pagoda is invariably a shinbyu procession’s first port of call in Yangon. The novice-to-be (ရှင်လောင်း shinlaung) may be the centre of attention, but his sister may at the same ceremony have an ear-piercing (နားသွင်း na thwin) with a gold needle, dressed up as a royal princess herself.”