90% of Myanmar practices Buddhism. So how does that play out in day to day business? Well it’s complicated. Buddhism is based on gaining merit. Merit is gained through wholesome actions. The world giving index comes out every year with Myanmar at the top or near the top every year. I think this is both because of Buddhism but also because of the poverty within the country. People know what it’s like to be poor and are willing to help. Yes, not all men and woman in Myanmar are super generous and doing only good, but most if not, all business people are involved in some kind of merit. This can be shown through them visiting monasteries during holidays to recited Buddhist scripture, donating to a monastery orphanage, volunteering at the temple or monastery, or donating money to a certain temple or monastery. These things are very important in every business person life in Myanmar. You may see in their office a picture of them with their family donating to a temple or monk. Or a picture of a monk blessing them after they’ve given.
Every office will have an alter somewhere that they can pray. They will put food their at the alter for Buddha and the spirits. Usually it’s placed at the beginning of the day. At midday someone can eat it. They believe that anyone that eats to food from the alter will be kept safe.
Points of religious courtesy:
Women should never touch a monk.
Wear Modest Clothing at all times especially in religious sites where you should cover your legs and shoulders.
Removal of shoes and socks are necessary at shrines, temples, and monasteries. Also, most people’s homes require you to remove shoes outside them as well.
The head and feet are very important in Buddhist culture. Never touch someone in the head and never put your feet up on anything including a table. Pointing the bottoms of your feet to someone can be offensive.
Myanmar women in general should not be touched by a man. In business setting if a woman offers to shake your hand, then it’s okay.
Although you’ll see couples in the park holding hands and hiding under umbrellas; couples should refrain from public displays of affection. Parks are considered to be private places where couples go.