The Burmese of Bangladesh
The Burmese are the political, economic, and religious leaders of Myanmar (formerly Burma). Myanmar has had a long history of coups, rebellions, and wars. Ethnic divisions and political unrest have been common since the first Burmese kingdom in the eleventh century. Many Burmese fled to Bangladesh in hopes of finding a more peaceful climate. Unfortunately, Bangladesh has had its own problems, especially with invasions of the Burmese who were repelled by the British colonies. The Burmese refugees have also placed a strain on Bangladesh's economy. The Burmese have lived in a constant state of instability and fear.
What Are Their Lives Like?
It is a daily task for a whole Burmese family to go out into the fields to work. Mothers work with their babies, while the older children accompany their grandparents. Cattle and buffalo are raised to draw the heavy wooden plows and very little modern equipment is used. Oxen and water buffaloes are far more common than tractors.
The Burmese farmers live in villages among trees or along roads or rivers leading into the Ganges Delta. The wealthier people often live in sturdy, mahogany homes that are raised off the ground and have plank floors and tile roofs. Those with lower incomes may live in thatched roof, bamboo houses that have dirt floors. All activities take place on the dirt floors, including eating and sleeping. Therefore, it is extremely impolite to enter a Burmese house wearing shoes.
The single most important social institution in the village is the temple. It symbolizes unity among the villagers, and provides a wide variety of activities for the people. The Burmese do not recognize clans or lineages. Marriages are monogamous, and rarely arranged by the parents. Young couples generally live with the brides' parents for the first few years after they are married. They will set up their own homes after two or three years.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Their animistic beliefs center around inherently evil spirits called nats. The Burmese spend their lives trying to appease the nats so that they will be protected from any other evil spirits that may seek to harm them. All Burmese homes have altars for the spirits, as well as a statue of Buddha.
According to their Buddhist faith, the Burmese believe that death is not a threat to one who has done good deeds. Instead, death is simply a "passing" from one life to another. Buddhists believe that those with less merit are reborn as demons, ghosts, animals, or inhabitants of hell.
What Are Their Needs?
Two missions agencies are currently targeting the Burmese in Bangladesh. However, less than 1% of the Burmese community has come to Christ. Fervent prayer and effective evangelism are the keys to seeing them reached with the Gospel.Prayer Points
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.