The Religion Of Myanmar
Myanmar is a country populated by people who practice Buddhism mostly. Theravada Buddhism is the most popular form of religion here although Muslims, Hindus, and Christians form a part of the present population as well. Animism is an important part of Burmese religion too and many festivals as well as the rituals are observed according to this belief.
The religious composition of the people of Myanmar is as follows -Buddhists 89%, Muslims 4%, Christians 4%, Hindus 1% and others 2%.
Bamar, Shan, Mon and Rakhine along with the Chinese people in the country follow Buddhism. The religion reached Burma from India along with Hinduism. This occurred during the advent of the Pyu and Mon dynasties, long before Christianity was known. King Anawrahta of Bagan was the first ruler to convert into Buddhism and brought the religion to other areas of the country as he defeated the local rulers. However, the present day Buddhism practiced in the region is an interesting mix of Theravada rituals from Sri Lanka along with the animistic Nat-worship, several Hinduism based worship forms and Mahayana school of Buddhism from North India.
This religion also entered Myanmar along with Buddhism but never gained a foothold in the entire country. The Muslims belong, predominantly to the Ayarwady area known as Arakan in the 18th century. It has a border with Bangladesh and a number of immigrant Muslims from India settled here during the British rule. Almost all the mosques of the country are found here as well.
The European missionaries introduced Christianity in the country. However, it had almost no effect on the Buddhists residing in the region. The converted Christians belong almost entirely to the Kachin and Karen sects of Myanmar. The Roman Catholic Church and Assemblies of God of Myanmar are the biggest Christian organizations in present day Myanmar.
There are only about 1% of practicing Hindus left in Myanmar. However, Buddhism, the predominant religion of the country has been influenced by the Indian immigrants and Hinduism greatly. The Nat-culture identifies their king Thagyamin, as Indra, a Hindu God. The Buddhists of Myanmar also believe in Thuyathadi, God of knowledge who is a form of the Hindu Goddess Saraswati.