No provision is made for religion by the government, but it meets with liberal sup port from the people. A pon-gyee is held in profound veneration; his person is sacred, and he is addressed by the lordly title of pra or Ara; nor does this reverence terminate with his death. On the decease of a distinguished member, his body is embalmed, while the limbs are swathed in linen, varnished, and even gilded. The mummy is then placed on a highly decorated cenotaph, and preserved, sometimes for months, until the grand day of funeral. The Burman rites of cremation are very remarkable, but we cannot here enlarge upon them. On the whole, a favorable opinion may be passed on the monastic fraternity of 13.; although abuses have crept in, discipline is more lax than formerly, and many doubtless assume the yellow robe from unworthy motives.
In B., the last Buddha is worshiped under the name of Gautama. Ilis images crowd the temples, and many are of a gigantic size. The days of worship are at the new and full moon, and seven days after each; but the whole time, from the full moon of July, to the full moon of Oct., is devoted by the Burmans to a stricter observance of the ceremonies of their religion. During the latter month, several religious festivals take place, which are so many social gatherings and occasions for grand displays of dress, dancing, music, and feasting. At such tunes, barges full of gayly-dressed people, the women dancing to the monotonous dissonance of a Burman band, may be seen glid ing along the rivers to some shrine of peculiar sanctity. The worship on these occa sions has been described by an eye-witness, in 1857, as follows: "Arrived at the shrines and temples, the people suddenly turn from pleasure to devotion. Men bearing orna mental paper-umbrellas, fruits, flowers, and other offerings, crowd the image-houses, present their gifts to the favorite idol, make their dlek-ho, and say their prayers with all dispatch. Others are gluing more gold-leaf on the face of the image, or saluting him with crackers, the explosion of which in nowise interferes with the serenity of the wor shipers. The women for the most part remain outside, kneeling on the sward, just at the entrance of the temple, where a view can be obtained of the image within." On another occasion, we read: " The principal temple being under repair, was much crowded by bamboo scaffolding, and new pillars were being put up, each bearing an inscription with the name of the donor The umbrellas brought as offerings were so numerous, that one could with difficulty thread a passage through them. Some were pure white, others white and gold, while many boasted all the colors of the rainbow, They were made of pqper, beautifully cut into various patterns. There were numerous altars and images, and numberless little Gautainas; but a deep niche or cave, at the far end of which was a fat idol, with a vellow cloth wrapped round him, seemed a place of peculiar sanctity. This recess would have been quite dark, had it not been for the numberless tapers of yellow wax that were burning before the image. The closeness of
the place, the smoke front the candles, and the fumes from the quantity of crackers constantly being let off, rendered respiration almost impossible. All old pon-gyee, how ever, the only one I ever saw in a temple, seemed quite in his element; his shaven bristly head and coarse features looking ugly enough to serve for some favorite idol, and lie seemed a fitting embodiment of so senseless and degrading a worship. Offer ings of flowers, paper-ornaments, flags, and candles were scattered about iu profusion. The beating a bell with a deer's horn, the explosion of crackers, and the rapid mutter ing of prayers, made up a din of sounds, the suitable accompaniment of so misdirected a devotion." The rosary is in general use, and the Pali words aneitga ! dolca ! anatta ! expressing the transitory nature of all sublunary things, are very often repeated. The Burman is singnlarly free from fanaticism in the exercise of his religion, and his most sacred temples may be freely entered by the stranger without offense; indeed, the impartial observer will hardly fail to admit that Buddhism, in the absence of a purer creed, pos sesses considerable influence for good in the country under consideration. " It teaches man to combat, control, and master the passions of his heart, to make reason predomi nate over sense, mind over matter, and to practice the virtues required for the attainment of these objects." The sacred edifices are of three kinds: 1. The tope, dagoba, or shrine (zadee or tea dee), a monument erected to the last Buddha, is a solid, bell-shaped mass of plastered brickwork, tapering to the summit, which is crowned by the tee, or umbrella, of open ironwork. 2. The temple, in which are many images of Gautama. The most remark able specimen of Burman temple-architecture is the ananda of Pagan. The ground plan takes the form of a perfect Greek cross; and a tapering spire, with a gilded tee at the height of 168 ft. from the foundation, crowns the whole. 3. The kyoang or monas tery (vaunt) is generally constructed with a roof of several diminishing stages, and is often elaborately adorned. Burman architecture " differs essentially from that of India in the frequent use of the pointed arch, not only for doors and windows, but also in the vaulted coverings of passages." the present capital of B., and seat of royalty, is situated 3 m. from the Irrawaddy, a little to the n. of Amarapura and Ava. It is laid out iu three parallel ograms, one within another, of which the inner two are walled; the palace occupies the center. Ava and Amarapura, each at one time the capital of the empire, are now almost entirely deserted. Pagan represents the past of B., and is remarkable for its magnifi cent ruins of temple-architecture, extending over 8 sq.m.; the prevailing type is the cruciform vaulted temple.