Introduction / History
The Eastern Pwo Karen live in eastern Myanmar, in Kayin Karen State, Mon State, and Taninthari Tenasserim Division. Most are rural farmers, growing rice and vegetables and sometimes raising livestock. Many have fled their homes and fields due to the military conflict around them; some have moved within Myanmar only, and about 50,000 others have migrated to Thailand.
What are Their Beliefs?
Most practice Buddhism mixed with traditional Karen religion animism. There are also many millennial cults started by Eastern Pwo Karen themselves. These cults' beliefs are usually based in either Buddhism or Christianity. Two of the largest of these groups are called Leke and Telakhon. There are many Christians as well, but they remain a minority.
Through Pwo Karen survey work, it was found that the Bible called the “Western” Pwo Karen Bible was actually translated for Eastern and Western, and likely was more suitable to Eastern than Western. This information comes both from Womack (2005) and Eastern Pwo Karen interviewees. The reason that this translation is today known as the “Western” Pwo Karen Bible is that the Western Pwo Karen converted in larger numbers and use this Bible more. However, the Eastern Pwo Karen Christians do use this Bible as well and consider it to be their own language.
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