The practice of fortune-telling is not only embedded in the daily life of the Myanmar people but has also shaped the nation’s history. A few years after the end of the world war II, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, became independent from the British. Myanmar actually can declare independence on January 1, 1948. However, Myanmar postponed annoucing the independence because they had to choose the right day, date and time of independence according to astrological predictions.
Burma open a new chapter as an independent nation on January 4, 1948, at 04.20 am in Rangoon. Exactly what fortune tellers suggested.
The power of astrologer
The practice of fortune telling is closely related to the life of the Myanmar not to mention state officials. Myanmar’s leaders rely on supernatural knowledge to help them rule the country.
Astrological and numerological divination is used by the rulers of Myanmar to run the government. General Ne Win was president of Burma from 1974 to 1981. Prior to becoming president, General Ne Win served as prime minister of Burma from 1958 to 1960 and from 1962 to 1974. He also served as chairman of the Burma Socialist Program Party, the only party politics in Burma and held full power until 1988. General Ne Win is the dictator of Myanmar and believes in mystical things. To maintain his political power he used astrological predictions. General Ne Win seeks advice from astrologers to overcome problems and challenges during his reign. Initially the advice and suggestions of his astrologers did not have a big impact on the development of Myanmar.
In the mid-1970s General Ne Win suddenly ordered all cars on Myanmar’s roads to be driven in the right lane. It is difficult to find a logical reason behind such a radical change because it is not based on clear reasons. This policy is known as the practice of yadayah chai- carrying out the advice given by astrologers. General Ne Win trusted astrologer’s advice that driving in the right lane could prevent a collision or accident.
On 22 September 1987, Myanmar issued two new banknotes with the unusual denominations of 45 Kyat and 90 Kyat. The policy was controversial because no country in the world had ever issued banknotes in the 45 and 90 notes. This policy was taken by General Ne Win, following advice of his astrologers. General Ne Win suddenly changed the Myanmar currency to a multiple of nine -the sum of 4 and five (4+5), 9 and zero (9+0) both result in number nine (9) because nine was his lucky number.
General Ne Win lived for 92 years but luck had not always been on General Ne Win’s side. After being hit by a wave of protests and massive demonstrations, General Ne Win finally could not stand the pressure from the public. In 1988 General Ne Win decided to resign as ruler of Myanmar. The night before handing over power, General Ne Win did not sleep in his house but stayed in Saya San Hall, again following the advice of his fortune teller.
The new capital city and the threat of disaster
The profession of fortune-teller or fortune-teller is highly respected in Myanmar. Not only did General Ne Win obediently listen to his necromancer, Military ruler of Myamar General Than Shwe also always relied on his fortune teller.
In 2005, General Than Swhe ordered the construction of a new capital city, Naypyidaw, with the exact date and time as suggested by astrologers. It was E Thi, the astrologer who instigate Myanmar’s capital moved from Yangon to Naypyidaw. E Thi aka Swe Swe Win is a famous fortune teller in Myanmar. His clients are high profile and powerful figures in Myanmar including political leaders in of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra, businessmen and billionaires. General Than Shwe believed and obeyed each of E Thi’s word.
E Thi predicts calamity will occur. The best way to prevent the capital city is by moving it to Naypyidaw. General Than Shwe officially moved the capital city of Yangon to Naypyitaw. Naypyidaw is located in Pyinmana City, Mandalay Province about 376 kilometers or about five hours by road from Yangon. Naypyidaw literally means “King’s Throne” or ‘King’s Residence’. The process of building Naypyitaw as ‘brand new’ capital city of Myanmar cost IDR 580 trillion and is considered a project of General Than Shwe’s arrogance. Naypyidaw is now the third largest city in Myanmar after Yangon and Mandalay.
Aung San Suu Kyi
General Than Shwe followed all of E Thi’s instructions even though her advice was contradictive. On February 12, 2011, General Than Shwe shocked the country by appearing on national television wearing women’s sarong design, a longyi achiek.
Acheik is a sarong waves patterned interconnected and commonly worn by women at weddings and formal events. Wearing a “feminine” sarong on television, made General Than Shwe’s television became the talk of the whole country. Again, what General Than Shwe did was the practice of yadayah chai.
Fortune tellers have been warned the government repeatedly that a woman will rule Myanmar one day. In response to these concerns, General Than Shwe tried to thwart Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) from coming to power by wearing women’s longyi as suggested by E Thi, the astrologer. The goal is to counter the influence of Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as weaken the capabilities of Myanmar’s pro-democracy activists. This method is believed to break Aung San Suu Kyi’s path and reverse her karma. General Than Shwe had seven personal necromancers. Some of them are in charge of monitoring Aung San Suu Kyi.
E Thi is Myanmar’s military Junta’s most reliable fortune teller. Its customers are mostly state officials, influential and wealthy figures. E Thi’s ability to predict the future is beyond her limitations. E Thi is an astrologer who is handicapped, blind and deaf. All communication with his clients is done in writing with the help of his sister. E Thi always asked his sister to translate his predictions. E Thi’s consulting service rates are very expensive, reaching US$1,000 per hour. And it’s very difficult to make an appointment with him.
E Thi is famous for his ability to guess the serial number of a banknote before seeing it. E Thi also predicted a strong earthquake in Thailand in 2012 but his prediction was met with skepticism. Until a big earthquake rocked northern Thailand in May 2014. E Thi, a famous astrologer from Myanmar died at the age of 58 years.
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