I’m starting Day 2 of Myanmar Photo Archive on @newyorkerphoto with one of my favorites in the archive – a beautiful hand-colored image of an ear piercing and novitiate ceremony in Myingyan in April 1957.
The “Shinbyu” or novitiate ceremony is one of the most important events in a Buddhist’s life in Myanmar. Novitiation means allowing boys to enter Buddha’s Order as a novice after shaving their heads, donning robes, and asking permission in Pali to become a novice. While Myanmar boys are initiated in the Shinbyu ceremony, the girls also have an important ceremony in which their ear lobes are pierced when they come of age. Unlike the novice ceremony, this is more of a social than religious event, and Myanmar women have traditionally worn earrings as status symbols as well as ornaments.