Myanmar is a beautiful and relatively small country, which has 135 recognized ethnic groups living within its borders. It’s quite easy to offend someone from a different culture, especially in a place that has so many! To avoid offending someone on your holiday in this amazing country, read up on some things that are a no-no in the country formerly known as Burma.
The name Of The Country
Myanmar may be the new official name, but many people still refer to their country by its colonial name, Burma. Burma is a British adaptation of the Bamar ethnic population, which is the dominant one of eight main ones in the country.
Some natives consider the name Burma to be a negative reminder of the colonization while many others argue that Republic of the Union of Myanmar is a title chosen by an authoritative government and that it segregates other ethnic nations in the country.
Depending on which you choose to use, which depends on whom you speak with, know that some regional and city names change as well like Yangon Myanmar or Rangoon Burma.
Myanmar is mainly Buddhist, but some ethnic states practice Christianity as well as some other localized religions.
Monks are a common site in every city and village and, regardless of an individual’s spiritual practice, these religious members are always shown respect.
Some common gestures of respect include never pointing your feet at a monk, giving them the most accessible seats in public transport and not touching a monk if you’re a woman.
Hospitality And Sharing
Although the Burmese might have little, they are happy to share everything they have with visitors and guests. Buddhists also find it rude to eat something in front of others, without offering it to them first. It’s is considered impolite to decline an offer of hospitality. You should at least take a small portion. Even a single bite will assure your host that you appreciate the gesture and that you have respect for him/her.
When it comes to food, there is no typical Burmese meal, but all of them are served in a similar style. A family sized bowl of rice is placed in the middle of the table, sometimes with several vegetable or meat dishes, and with some optional spices. The whole family eats at the same time. Each person puts a small amount of food on his or her plate and then eats with a utensil or hand.
If you find yourself as a guest at a Burmese family meal, you’ll be offered the first bites and the choicest meats. Always leave enough for everyone else and never take more than you can actually eat.