Buddhists in Pink

They move serenely in brilliant saffron or pink robes, symbolizing the spirituality of a beautiful culture.

Girls enter the monastic life, shave their heads, take ordination vows and practise meditation and reading scriptures just as male monks do. They don’t perform ceremonies though or travel overseas, and they carry only ten precepts, the ethical rules in Buddhism, the same number for novice monks.

The only other difference and the most striking is the pink robe. It is often worn with an orange sash over the left shoulder and is a difference unique to Myanmar Buddhists.

The nuns are called sila-rhan (pronounced thila-shin) which means the “keeper of morality.” That’s a tall order for a girl of any age, but Myanmar’s nuns bear the title with cheerful humility. Often, they have left home at an early age to live in the nunnery, where they spend their time in service to the community, collecting alms, teaching, studying and meditating.

Buddhist males are expected to become Monks twice during their lifetime, as boys and as men, but there is no such expectation for girls, so joining the order is the choice of the girl or her family.


For poorer families, the pink robes are a way for their daughters to escape poverty, get an education and to have an honorable position in society. For some it is simply a rite of passage but many take up the pink kasaya (robe) for life.

Although generally considered quieter than their monk counterparts, once you engage with nuns, nuns can be just as cheeky or shy as any other girl in the world.

Novice Nuns and Monks at Swedagon Pagoda in Yangon...
A very shy young Nun who wanted to try her English out with me..

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