This is not a Christmas post – but it is a post about Christmas nonetheless. I didn’t plan this one, really, but also here in Myanmar Christmas is all around. Some of the shops along the streets display only clothes in a white and red colour combination and at the big mall they do play Christmas songs and sell plastic christmas trees.
But I was not prepared (okay, by now we all learned that every day I keep being surprised) for my Myanma lesson this day:
Uzin Agga*, my highly appreciated teacher and friend, started our today’s session with a Bible quotation! And I have to admit it’s not only because my Myanma is still not that good – but also my catholic education has not really helped in recognizing this. Full of enthusiasm – as always – he wrote it down and here it is:
ေရာမၾသ၀ါဒစာ။ ၁၂ :၂၁ (Romans 12:21)
ဗုဒၶ (Buddha’s teaching)
To extend our dialogue he also added this teaching of Buddha. Both of them say – in different words – that one should continue to do good and conquer the evil in this way.
Uzin Aggas teaching is always prominently featured by his enthusiasm and positivity. And now he explains that he enjoys reading bible quotations for their literary style and poetic word usage that is a valuable addition to the Myanma language!
I feel somewhat relieved: Brought up Christian, even though my personal beliefs may differ from the classical canon now, I have internalized Christmas as the time of reflection and gratitude. So, in the past days I went around to my field sites and friends and brought some small presents to show my appreciation and by this bringing in something that is part of my culture as well. Not without asking the typical anthropological self-reflexive questions though: “Is that an okay thing to do?” and what consequences this cultural exchange may have in the short run and for the long term?
But when I think of Uzin Agga’s delight about the beautiful sentences we read today I try to see the good in things like this, it is possible that they transcend the religious background and bring a little more happiness and peace.
Thank you so much Uzin Agga, for the wisdom and loving kindness (yes, your words) you share with me: the time and effort for the preparation of the sessions and our slow motion mobile communication, your patience in listening to my mistakes repeatedly and your constant encouragement!
*Full name not displayed.