Well....in my quest to be the Tourism Ambassador for Southeast Asia, I have to learn the customs and culture of the people in this region. It's quite a challenge considering that there are many countries and about half a billion people living here. But I persevere....
Last weekend, Mama brought me to a function organised by the Myanmar community in Kuala Lumpur. While some members of the community are recent arrivals, some have migrated here since the early 1990s and have even married locals as well as became citizens. The event we attended was the happy occasion of a prize giving ceremony of a school serving the community. Mama's office has been implementing educational programmes at the school such as giving them computers, computer lessons, English language lessons, skills training, sports and income generation projects. Hence the invitation to the event.
Oooh...but I digress. Now, what is payae? Payae is the Myanmarese word for facial tattoo!
As I was soaking in the sights and sounds...OK, they were speaking in a language I don't recognise, I noticed that some of the ladies and children had a sort of pattern drawn on their faces. Busybody me began asking questions, to the ladies of course. I found out that it is a Myanmarese custom to "wear" this facial decor as an identification of sorts - a mark of Myanmarese-ness. (I wonder if Burmese cats have the same pattern drawn on their faces).
Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, ancient kings and nobles of ancient Burma go deep into the hills and jungles to capture beautiful tribal maidens, and made them concubines at the courts and palaces. So, the tribespeople decided to "destroy" the beauty that those evil noblemen seek. This was done by tattooing the face of young girls. As soon as a girl enters the age of puberty, tattoo is applied onto her face – the pattern of the tattoo being the one according to the tribe she belongs. The process of facial tattooing is quite painful and dangerous. Some even died of infection. The practice has been outlawed since 1960s, but some still practiced until around 1980s. The facial tattooing is no longer practiced anymore, even in the remotest areas. Although nobody could authenticate the validity of this story, many Myanmarese girls, especially those I saw at the event are indeed very beautiful.
Feast your eyes and tell me if these people (especially the girls) aren't beautiful, with or without payae....But I don't know why some of the boys wear it too. Forgot to ask their mothers.
|This boy is so cute that Mama wants to take him home.|
|Another boy with a pattern on his face.|
|This lady is a beauty.....hmmm....the decor can't really hide her beauty, eh?|
|I think this boy doesn't really like being decorated as such when his sister escaped the same fate.|
|Mother and child....lovely aren't they?|
|This lady sells the facial decor material. And she's the advertisement for her products.|
|I'm guessing it's the liquid at the top left corner.|
|My favourite....thank God she didn't "wear" the facial decor.|
Oh...how can I forget? We also ate Burmese dishes and even bottled drinks specially imported from Myanmar. The drinks are very colourful, sweet, non-carbonated and usually served with lime.
|Guests at the buffet station.|
|Specially imported green drink.|
|....and red as well.|
|This is the vegetarian buffet section.|
|....and fruits for dessert.|
|The meat dish up close. I don't know what it's called.|
|The graduates!!!! The festivities were all for them.|
Brad says: Mama, may I wear payae too? har har har *evil laughs*