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    Burmese faith in omens, numbers, spirits eclipses political leanings

    On a rainy September afternoon, hundreds of Burmese, mostly women and children, were jostling each other to get into a gated compound of a two-storey modern house in a Rangoon suburb. Campaigning for Burma’s elections had started the day before, but this was not a political rally. These people, drenched in sweat and rain, had little interest in conventional politics – they were looking for supernatural blessings from a spirit. Inside the house was a startlingly realistic, life-size wax model of an elderly Burmese man sitting cross-legged on an altar, before which everyone was trying to bow down to seek its blessings. Outside, on the makeshift stage festooned with flags and balloons, a woman, dressed in a blue blouse and htamein embroidered with gold sequins, danced to the melodies played by a traditional Burmese musical troupe. “May rains of gems and money fall. May the omens bode well for success of our country,” the woman cried, her voice blaring out from loudspeakers. The popular event was to mark of the 63rd anniversary of what believers say was the transmigration of Burmese spiritual leader Bo Min Khaung to a “deathless” higher spiritual state on the demise of his earthly body. The believers claim he…

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