Monday, 14 October 2013

The Burmese Kadaw

“I cannot think of an English equivalent for the Myanmar word kadaw: it is more than paying respects, or doing obeisance. One raises clasped hands to the forehand and crouches humbly at the feet of the parents, elders and teachers, in the same way one does to worship the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. This is to kadaw—to be humble and reverent, remembering with gratitude all that one owes to parents and teachers, and what is more, desiring to be purged of all the trespasses that might have been committed by word, though or deed. The reverent posture of crouching with clasped hands raised to the forehead should not be mistaken for servility, for it is not something that is forced or compelled. It is a voluntary act of honour to whom honor is due… The custom of kudow is rooted in the Buddhist acceptance of samsara, the round of being born and reborn; all beings, human and all, go round meeting one another in amicable relationships or otherwise; there would be love and kindness, but there could be hate and enmity as well. There are surely wrongful actions committed consciously or unconsciously to one in this present life. When Buddhists do the ceremony of kadaw… they not only pay respect with the gesture of gratitude, but also ask for forgiveness for any wrongful action they might have done in this life and many many lives before.” Khin Myo Chit, Colorful Myanmar

Burmese villagers pay respects to approaching monks on alms rounds