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Myanmar Child monks become royalty for a day (Photos)

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The whole village of Myinkabar, nestled among the centuries-old pagodas of Bagan city, turns out for an annual lavish feast in their honour.

Riding elephants and horses in heavily bejewelled costumes, thick eyeliner and rouged lips, boys in central Myanmar parade through their village as ancient princes in a ceremony to mark their passage to monkhood.

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The whole village of Myinkabar, nestled among the centuries-old pagodas of Bagan city, turns out for an annual lavish feast in their honour.

Everyone pays respects to the children giving up their worldly belongings — at least for a few days.

Buddhist tradition in Myanmar requires youths to spend some time in a monastery or nunnery before the age of 18 in what is viewed as an important coming of age ritual.

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Most people undertake this at least once in their lives.

The first step for both boys and girls is to have all their hair shaved off.

They adjust to a demanding daily schedule of alms collecting, chores, study and worship.

But perhaps the hardest aspect is not eating from 12 noon until sunrise the next morning.

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Many ‘novices’ are happy to exchange their robes — maroon or saffron for monks, pink for nuns — at the end of the week for their normal attire and return to their families.

Others, however, are there for the long-term, destined for a monastic life.

“Sometimes I want to play football like other children in Yangon but I can’t,” says 13-year-old Tate Tha, who has been a novice monk in Yangon for five years already.

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“I’m envious of them but I’m doing good things in life and I am happy for that.”

Traditionally monasteries and convents have offered the chance for children, particularly from poorer backgrounds, to receive an education in the country which is 87 percent Buddhist.

But as free places in government schools have become more widely available, the number of novice monks and nuns is in decline, a trend that worries some Buddhism experts.

“It is like a tree whose roots are being destroyed,” says Mya Thein, 50, a scholar at Yangon Buddhist University.

“We need to take care of it and we also need to find a solution. It is now in danger.”

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Russian: President Putin eases access to citizenship for east Ukraine residents.

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Source: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of the rebel-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

Separatist rebellions broke out against Ukrainian rule in both regions in 2014. Moscow provided military help for the separatists, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, though Russian officials have denied providing material support.

Large swathes of the two regions are now under the de facto control of the Moscow-backed rebels, while Kiev says it is determined to re-assert its control, a position backed by most Western countries.

There was no immediate reaction from Kiev to Putin’s order. Ukrainian officials are likely to react angrily to any indication Moscow is drawing the rebel regions closer into its own orbit.

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Machester Derby – Epl’s Most important Match of the Season

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The Manchester derby today is arguably the most important match of the season as it will determine the comfort of Liverpool on the league table or the come back of Manchester City on top, while it also may determine the place of United in the European leagues next season.

Meanwhile, Manchester City have won five of their last seven Premier League fixtures at Old Trafford (D1, L1), having triumphed in only one of the first 14 visits. A seventh away win for City would be a new Premier League record for overall wins at Old Trafford by a visiting club

Manchester United have Luke Shaw available after suspension but Phil Jones limped off during the defeat at Everton and is not expected to be fit.

Ander Herrera, who has been out for four weeks with a thigh injury, was not part of the squad which arrived at the team hotel on Tuesday.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will miss out after sustaining a hamstring problem last weekend.

Claudio Bravo is City’s only other injury absentee

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