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Myanmar’s child monks become royalty for a day

Riding elephants and horses in heavily bejewelled costumes, thick eyeliner and rouged lips, boys in central Myanmar parade through their village as ancient princes in a ceremony to mark their passage to monkhood.

The whole village of Myinkabar, nestled among the centuries-old pagodas of Bagan city, turns out for an annual lavish feast in their honour.

Everyone pays respects to the children giving up their worldly belongings – at least for a few days.

Buddhist tradition in Myanmar requires youths to spend some time in a monastery or nunnery before the age of 18 in what is viewed as an important coming of age ritual. Most people undertake this at least once in their lives. The first step for both boys and girls is to have all their hair shaved off. They adjust to a demanding daily schedule of alms collecting, chores, study and worship.

But perhaps the hardest aspect is not eating from 12 noon until sunrise the next morning.

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