Poy Sang Long

The Shan people live in several parts of southeast Asia. Most of them live in the Shan province of Myan Mar (Burma). There are Shan communities in the north of Thailand (especially in the province of Mae Hong Son), China and Cambodia.

The Shan boys, aged between 7 and 14, have to pass the rite known as Poy Sang Long. If translated the name of this rite means the Festival of the Crystal Sons. Poy Sang Long is organized in the late March or early April. It usually lasts for three days.

On the first day boys' parents and relatives shave their head. Then they are dressed in the special silk clothes. Make-up is put on their face. There is a hat and flower decoration on boys' head. They also wear jewels and other adornments. Each boy looks like a prince. It is done on purpose. Buddha was a prince before starting his religious life.

Poy Sang Long
Poy Sang Long

Boys' feet should not touch the ground, except the one in temple or home. That is why each boy is carried on shoulders of their male relative. In some Shan communities the boy is carried in a special litter by two men. Usually there is also a guy who carries an umbrella to protect the boy from strong sunlight. The procession leads towards the local temple. There is also a band playing traditional music.

Boys stay in the temple for up to several months. There are also those who decide to become novice monks.