While monks are a very common sight in Myanmar, you can also see nuns everywhere, although to a lesser degree. They seem more modest, less outgoing, and in general, more dedicated to serving their religious function. According to a Burmese saying, an unfortunate event like the loss of a loved one or indebtedness, lead women to become nuns. Unlike monks, most nuns remain nuns for the rest of their lives. Burmese nuns, or thilashin, in the Theravada tradition, have to keep 10 precepts, shave their heads, and wear their easily recognizable pinkish-red robes.
They are supposed to carry out religious functions, in order to lessen the responsibilities of the mundane world. According to Theravada tradition, practicing Buddha's teaching should be carried out in two ways: studying Buddhist pariyatti (scriptures), and practicing patipatti (dhamma). Burmese nuns lead a simple life, with meditation and studying Buddhist scriptures. Nuns are active in education, mostly educating other, younger nuns in nunneries. Contrary to monks,they do not travel abroad for studying purposes, and unlike monks, they are not supposed to preach. Burmese nuns are often expected to carry out caring, domestic tasks, both for monks and in public.
While Burmese monks quite often approach foreigners in search of "donations" to make their monk-life a little easier, Burmese nuns would never do this. As a consequence, they lead a more austere life, and indeed, appear to be more serious when seen in the streets of Myanmar. With their shaven heads, they sometimes look very un-feminine, but I also saw nuns who laughed at me. Sometimes, nuns even seem naughty girlsl; one male foreigner said that he was touched in his private parts by nuns who happened to be there when he accidentally fell down. It only makes them more human, and in general, Burmese nuns are another inevitable part of Burmese life, and a photogenic one, at that.
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