The Burmese zodiac is the traditional system of astronomy and astrology in Myanmar. It is the invention of ancient monks who created an astrological system through a keen understanding of the cosmic world and incorporated this knowledge with their observations of the skies and the animal kingdom. This ancient branch of astrology is called Mahabote, meaning “little vessel” or “little key”.
While it is still an essential component of the Burmese calendar, today, the zodiac is closely identified with Burmese astrology, called Bedin. Primarily derived from Hindu astronomy and Vedic astrology, the Burmese zodiac consists of not only the same 12 signs of the Western zodiac but also 27 lunar mansions of the month and eight-weekday signs. The Burmese zodiac, like the Western zodiac, is divided into 12 signs called yathi.
12 zodiac signs
The Burmese signs are identical to Indian and Western signs as they were derived from Indian and ultimately Western zodiac. Each yathi is divided into 30 degrees; each degree into 60 minutes; and each minute into 60 seconds.
|Longitude||Myanmar Zodiac Sign||Greek zodiac sign||Gregorian months||Ruling planet|
|180º||Man with a balance||Libra||Sep-Oct||Venus|
27 lunar mansions of the month
The zodiac month consists of 27 days, approximating the mean sidereal month of 27.321661 days. Thus each zodiac day, callednekkhat, represents a lunar mansion, or a segment of the ecliptic along which the moon revolves around the earth.
Though the names are Burmese adaptations of Sanskrit names, the Burmese system is not the same as the modern Indian system. The Burmese system uses unequal spaces for each segment (from 5º to 26º), and the first segment, Athawani, begins at 350º longitude. The modern Indian system uses equal segments of 13º 20′ (360º divided by 27), and the first segment, Asvini, begins at 0º. (The zodiac also recognizes a lost 28th constellation, called Abizi, which apparently made one revolution among these stars in 27 to 28 days.) The nekkhats are usually used to calculate the zata (horoscope) of a person or an event. Many historical dates were represented with the nekkhat position, not with the more common calendrical date.
|1. Athawani||10. Maga||19. Mula|
|2. Barani||11. Pyobba Baragonni||20. Pyobba Than|
|3. Kyattika||12. Ottara Baragonni||21. Ottara Than|
|4. Yawhani||13. Hathada||22. Tharawun|
|5. Migathi||14. Seiktra||23. Danatheikda|
|6. Adra||15. Thwati||24. Thattabeiksha|
|7. Ponnahpukshu||16. Withaka||25. Pyobba Parabaik|
|8. Hpusha||17. Anuyada||26. Ottara Parabaik|
|9. Athaleiktha||18. Zehta||27. Yewati|
8 weekdays signs
We see the number 8 in all manner of powerful symbols native to Burma and its surrounding regions. Most noteworthy is the sacred lotus blossom splaying out its eight voluptuous petals for our contemplation.
The ancient Burmese astrological system is based on seven planets (seen in Hindu astrology), plus Rahu. This is unique because it is not a planet, but a conceptual celestial presence. Literally defined, Rahu is the point of intersection between the earth, sun and moon at the time of the eclipse. For astrological purposes, Rahu serves as an invisible planet of the Burmese zodiac system. This makes eight planetary entities that dance into our own orbit and thus makes their mark on our lives as we move through time.
Eight Days of the Week
Mahabote is also based on the eight days of the week. To accommodate for the extra day, the ancient Myanmar monks split Wednesday in half making two days: Wednesday morning (12:01 am to 12:00 p.m.) and Wednesday afternoon (12:01 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.).
Eight Cardinal Directions
Here again, we see the utilization of the mystical power of the number eight, as there are eight cardinal directions. Each direction vibrates in its own distinct symbolic energy. According to your day of birth, your direction should prove beneficial for you.
Eight Burmese Zodiac Animal Signs
To determine your zodiac animal signs, (like your Western astrological sun sign) all you need is the day of the week you were born. Zodiac animal signs are just the surface layer of Mahabote. A deeper study is encouraged to get the vast depth of this amazing astrological art form.
|Animal||Day of week||Ruling Planet||Ruling Direction|
|Elephant (with tusks)||Wednesday Morning||Mercury||South|
|Elephant (no tusks)||Wednesday Afternoon||Rahu||Northwest|
*a mythical Hindu/Buddhist bird deity
Burmese are very superstitious. Most Burmese believe in astrology, divination and nats. Fortunetellers, numerologists and astrologers often set up stands outside Buddhist temples and are fixtures of Buddhist festivals. Many of Myanmar’s generals reportedly used soothsayers and fortunetellers to make decisions and decide policy.
Rural Burmese are said to be especially superstitious. Astrology, palmistry and clairvoyance are sometimes relied upon to make important decisions. These may include marriage, going into a business partnership and naming a baby. To offset bad luck, certain meritorious deeds or yadaya may be performed such as setting free some live birds or animals, building a footbridge, or mending a road.
- Don’t keep a broken glass or a mirror in homes as it will bring bad luck. Replace them as soon as possible if broken.
- Don’t leave a shoe or a slipper upside down. It will cause bad luck.
- Don’t wash your hair within a week after a funeral in the neighbourhood, it is better to wait at least one week.
- Don’t hit the pot with a ladle after you stir the curry. It is like hitting your parents’ head.
- Don’t hit two lids of pots and pans against each other. A tiger may bite you.
- Don’t clip your nails at night. Ghosts don’t like that.
- Don’t take kids to dark places or play hide and seek after the sunset. Ghosts may possess them.
- Don’t go underneath a staircase or a clothesline with women longyis drying on it. You will lose your power.
- Don’t feed someone with the palm upward. The food might cause you disorder.
- Carrying some hairs of an elephant tail will avoid evil.
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