by Nicola Lessing
Recently I was in Myanmar (Burma) visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon when my wonderful friend and guide Bo Bo pointed out to me Thursday corner.
Bo Bo explained to me that all the people who were praying and worshipping there had been born on a Thursday.
As we continued to walk around the huge Pagoda area we kept coming across different “corners” for different days until we reached “Wednesday Morning”. At that point I learnt that the Burmese Calendar in Myanmar has 8 days of the week.
I thought that sounded wonderful as I could do with an extra day every week. However, on further investigation I discovered they still have the same number of hours, it is just that Wednesday is counted as two 12 hour days – so one day is Wednesday Morning Day and the next day is Wednesday Afternoon.
Wednesday Morning Corner
It also turned out these corners are not on corners but they are on 8 cardinal points.
Later on in my travels Jasmin, another beautiful guide, shared with me that it is custom for your name to correspond to the day you are born. Each day of the week has a series of letters assigned to it from the Burmese alphabet. So if you are born on Monday, your name will begin with a letter from the start of the alphabet with the letters that are assigned to Monday. If you are born on a Tuesday, your name will begin with Tuesday letters from a bit later in the alphabet and so on. Apparently about 90% of the population still follow this custom.
When I asked why did they choose Wednesday rather than any other day to make into 2 days, I was told that certain animals belong to each day and for Wednesday it is an elephant. The kings liked having elephants because they represented being big and powerful and that is somehow related.
There are many customs and practices in Myanmar, the people are gorgeous and it is fascinating and fun to visit. We have many tours including a delightful 8 day (week) in Mandalay, Bagan, Inle and Yangon. I look forward to returning as soon as I can.