Thursday, May 8, 2014

"Little Buddhist monks" - child novices (photos)

Eds., Wisdom Quarterly; Dietmar Temps (, DeepBlue66/

Novitiate initiation in Pagan, Burma (Bagan, Myanmar)
Dressed like Prince Rahula
For a boy in Burma it is customary to enter a Buddhist monastery as a novice (samanera, "little ascetic") between the ages of 7-20.
One has his head shaven and vows to adhere to ten precepts (rather than the monks' 227 rules) for at least a week.

The renunciation ceremony
Sometimes the boys are even younger, in rare cases only 5 or 6 years old. For Burmese people, the novitiate initiation is a very important ceremony and a big event for the family.

The temporary ordination ceremony is called Shinbyu in Burmese. The practice is not limited to Theravada Buddhists in Southeast Asia but is practiced throughout the Buddhist world except in Sri Lanka where temporary ordination is not done. The first Buddhist novice was the Buddha's son, Prince Rahula, who became a monastic at age 7.

The first novice
Rahula, his father the Buddha, and Ananda
Rāhula (who lived at least 25 centuries ago) was the only son of Prince Siddhartha Gautama (who later became the ascetic Siddhartha and then the Buddha) and his wife Bimba-devi (who is known to the world as Princess Yasodharā then the Buddhist nun Ven. Bhaddakaccānā). He was the first child to become a Buddhist novice (samanera) at his father's behest. One account of his life is given in the Pāli language canon. More

Bang the gong not the tympani, venerable. I'll ring the bell, handle the vajra. You guys chant.
Vajrayana child novices enjoy temporary ordination throughout the Himalayas -- in India (Ladakh, Dharmsala, AP, HP, Sikkim...), Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, China (
Dietmar Temps is a world class photographer who travels the globe to bring to light cultures and kids rapidly fading into memory due to Western hegemony and the homogenization of the planet (

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