Canadians may have been scaring themselves silly about the niqab (or hijab, call it what you will) in their recently concluded election season, but that’s nothing compared to the Burmese.
As Myanmar gets busy (in ways good and bad) preparing for the general election, its politicians are doing something pretty extraordinary. They’re dedicated to believing everything their astrologers tell them, including some quite potent stuff according to The Fringe. It’s black magic or yadaya in Burmese and it has a great hold on the Burmese people. So much so that one politician reeling from his astrologer’s prediction of an assassination attempt, reportedly shot his own reflection in a mirror in accordance with the advice the good man gave him.
And Than Shwe, who was until recently the head of the military junta, was unembarrassed to be seen on national television dressed in women’s clothing. This was part of the authorities’ attempt to take on National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi one-on-one, woman to woman, stree Shakti as they say in Sanskrit vs faux stree Shakti.
It’s customary for the Burmese (politicians and military men included) to practice yadaya offensively (ruin a rival’s career) just as much as defensively.
It reminds me a little of Haiti. Or India. Or anywhere really, where omens and signs are still read and interpreted, a sheep’s entrails carefully studied, birds’ flight patterns decoded and a sudden mouse infestation probed for inner meaning.