Burma - Myanmar Culture & History

Sharing borders with China, Bangladesh, India, Laos and Thailand, Burma is characterised by a horseshoe of mountains and hills that surround the country from the north, east and west.

MYANMAR (BURMA) CULTURE & FESTIVALS

Food & drink

Burmese cuisine features influences from Chinese and Indian cuisines, with curries very popular and rice a common staple. Less spices are typically used in the curries, though more ginger and garlic are often added for flavor.
Specialties vary by region, and some can be quite spicy. Tasty dishes to sample include Mohingal, which is a fish soup with rice, and Oh-no Khauk Swe, coconut and chicken in a spicy sauce. There is also a delicious spicy vegetarian rice salad, Lethok Son and Mandalay's famous 'mee-shay' noodles to try.
Aside from Burmese dishes, Thai, Indian and Chinese food can be commonly found at restaurants and in hotels, and there is an abundance of fresh fruit for sale in the markets. You should not consume the tap water in Burma, however bottled water is readily available and usually provided in hotel rooms for free.

Holidays and Festivals

  • 4 January is Independence Day, which marks Burma's independence from the British Empire in 1948. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 12 February marks Union Day, the anniversary of the Panglong Agreement in 1947, a historic meeting between ethnic minority leaders and the government. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 2 March is Peasants' Day, commemorating the anniversary of revolutionary leader Ne Win's coup in 1962. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 7 March is a public vacation honoring the Full Moon of Tabaung, an important Buddhist festival also celebrated in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • Full moon of Tabaung (Tabaung: the twelfth month in traditional Burmse calendar), normally takes place in March, is the merit-making day for Burmese Buddhists. The best highlight of this occasion is Shwedagon pagoda festival.   >> Learn more Full moon of Tabaung at here
  • 27 March is Armed Forces Day, a public vacation to recognize Burma's military regime, the Tatmadaw. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 12-16 April is Maha Thingyan, a water festival marking the leadup to Burmese New Year, where water is thrown on each other on the streets. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 17 April is a public vacation to celebrate Burma's New Year. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 1 May is May Day, honoring the economic and social achievements of workers. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • Full Moon of Kason (Kason: the second month in traditional Burmese calendar) usually takes place in May, is the anniversary of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, celebrated by watering the Bodhi tree. >> view here to know more   On this time, banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.    
  • Full Moon of Waso (Waso: the forth month in traditional Burmese calendar) usually occurs in July, marking the beginning of Buddhist Lent (Vassa). This is also the  anniversary of Buddha's first sermon on the Four Noble Truths. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 19 July is Martyr's Day, commemorating the assassination of Aung San, a revolutionary said to be the father of modern Burma, and several other cabinet members in 1947. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • Full Moon of Thadingyut (Thadingyut: the seventh month in tradditioanal Burmese calendar) usually takes place in October, marking the end of Buddhist Lent (Vassa). Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • Full Moon of Tazaungmon (Tazaungmon: the eighth month in traditional Burmese calendar), usually occurs in Novemver, marking the end of the rainy season. It is so-called as Festival of Light. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 8 December is National Day, the anniversary of university students' strikes in 1920. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 25 December is Christmas Day, a public vacation in Burma. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.


BURMA - MYANMAR HISTORY OVERVIEW

Archaelogical findings reveal that parts of Myanmar were inhibited some five thousand years ago. The ancestors of present-day Myanmars, the Pyus and the Mons established several kingdoms throughout the country from the 1st century A.D. to the 10th century A.D. From that early beginning, there are today a fascinating 135 nationalities who call Myanmar home.
Myanmar history dates back to the early 11th Century when King Anawrahta unified the country and founded the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan more than 20 years before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066(i.e. 1044 A.D.). The Bagan Empire encompassed the areas of the present day Myanmar and the entire Menam Valley in Thailand and lasted two centuries.
The Second Myanmar Empire was founded in mid 16th Century by King Bayinnaung(1551-1581). King Alaungpaya founded the last Myanmar Dynasty in 1752 and it was during the zenith of this Empire that the British moved into Myanmar. Like India, Myanmar became a British colony but only after three Anglo-Myanmar Wars in 1825, 1852, and 1885.
During the Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 till the return of the Allied Forces in 1945. Myanmar has become a sovereign independent state since 4th January 1948 after more than 100 years under the colonial administration.

Morden Myanmar (Burma) History Milestone

  • March 1962: Then-Myanmar comes under military rule by Ne Win after a bloodless coup.
  • March 1988: Mass anti-government demonstrations take place throughout Myanmar.
  • September 1988: Gen. Saw Maung takes over in another military coup. Aung San Suu Kyi co-founds and leads the National League for Democracy.
  • In 1989: Myanmar changes its name in English to Myanmar and the name of the capital from Rangoon to Yangon. Suu Kyi is placed under house arrest for charges of trying to divide the military, charges she denies.
  • In 1990: Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party wins more than 80 percent of the legislative seats in the polls, the first free elections in the country in nearly 30 years. The junta refuses to recognize the results.
  • October 14, 1991: Suu Kyi wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • April 23, 1992: Gen. Than Shwe replaces Saw Maung as head of the junta.
  • July 23, 1997: Myanmar joins ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
  • March 2006: Naypyidaw becomes the new administrative capital.
  • August-September 2007: Huge fuel price increases spark protests, later dubbed the "saffron revolution" after the robes of monks who also joined in. The protests gained steam over weeks. On September 24, Buddhist monks led about 100,000 in the largest anti-government demonstrations since 1988. Two days later, government forces cracked down.
  • October 20, 2007: U.N. General Assembly approves a resolution condemning the government crackdown and asking for the release of political protesters.
  • May 2, 2008: Cyclone Nargis hits Myanmar, killing more than 22,000. The government later reports 41,000 missing and up to 1 million homeless.
  • May 14, 2009: Suu Kyi is arrested and charged with government subversion, relating to an incident in which American John Yettaw swam uninvited to her lakeside home.
  • August 10, 2009: Myanmar court convicts Suu Kyi, then 64, for breaching the terms of her house arrest over Yettaw's visit. She is sentenced to 18 more months in home confinement, as were two of her house companions. Yettaw is sentenced to seven years of hard labor, but U.S. Senator Jim Webb obtains his release soon afterwards.
  • March 10, 2010: Junta announces new election law that disqualifies Suu Kyi from taking part in upcoming national elections, citing her conviction in court. She has spent more than 14 years of the last 20 years under house arrest.
  • April 26, 2010: Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein and several other ministers resign from their military posts in order to participate in upcoming elections.
  • May 7, 2010: The NLD refuses to register for the election, thereby disqualifying itself as a political party and officially dissolves. On the same day, supporters of Suu Kyi say they will form a new political party, National Democratic Force, which comprises some members of NLD.
  • August 13, 2010: Myanmar will hold elections on November 7, in the military junta-led nation's first vote since 1990.
  • November 2010: Scheduled date of Suu Kyi's release from house arrest and detention after 14 years.

Decades of change and political instability followed, with an unstable parliament and several military coups creating uncertainty around the newly Socialist country. Myanmar seemingly lurched from crisis to crisis, plagued by corruption, inflation and volatility from the 1960s to 1990s. With increasing trade embargoes, protests, sanctions and international pressure, the military government was forced to cease the imprisonment of democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi and instate democracy to the country once again. With elections being held in 2010, Myanmar could finally be on the road to restoring democracy, peace and prosperity to the population.