Karen is a derogatory term used as slang to denote white women who are seen as entitled or demanding beyond what is normal. It often appears in memes depicting white women asserting their power over others by using their privilege to get what they want.
Middle-aged and white, these women believe they are entitled to certain privileges that others do not possess. When faced with slight inconveniences, they become indignant and will often call the police for assistance.
Karens are a Burmese ethnic group
The Karens, a Burmese ethnic group known as Tibeto-Burman minority, were originally nomadic and living in China’s Gobi desert before migrating to Burma around the eighth century AD.
Kayah State and Kayin State in Myanmar now boast a large Buddhist population, but there are also significant numbers of animists and Christians (primarily Baptists and Catholics) present.
Karens have a deep-seated belief in spirits of nature. They believe there to be an all-powerful Lord (K’la) who rules over everything – rivers, forests and mountains alike. K’la also has many servants or ghosts which roam freely throughout the land; these ghosts have the power to either help or harm people depending on their actions.
Before they adopted Buddhism and Christianity, many Karen people practiced animism. They believed that all living things had a spirit, as did trees with protective spirits, deities of protection, and other powerful beings.
These spirits held great significance to them, so they would perform numerous rituals and ceremonies that included them. These included chanting prayers, burning sacred incense, and offering offerings as offerings to the spirits.
Karen people adhere to a rigid family system that only permits one wife and husband per household. Eloping is strictly forbidden, and men must live with their wives after marriage in order to enable the women to have proper harvest seasons.
Karen culture is distinguished by a number of traditional customs, such as food taboos and an exclusive diet for pregnant women. Furthermore, they are renowned for their exquisite cotton weaving used in clothing and blankets.
They produce a range of goods, such as etched silver jewelry and baskets. Some of their wares are sold overseas to generate income for their families.
Karens have a long-standing political struggle against Burmese authorities. In the 1950s, KNU joined forces with other ethnic groups to wage war against Burma’s army – promising independence to them in return. Unfortunately, since then tens of thousands of Karen have fled their homes and now reside abroad or in hiding.
They have many food taboos
Karens as a group possess many food taboos which may come as a shock to Westerners. Whether it is due to religious reasons, cultural norms or health-related concerns, Karens find it challenging to consume certain items.
One such taboo is that they cannot eat yellow foods, which may trigger malaria in the body. Furthermore, papaya is not allowed as it could potentially lead to hepatitis.
Dietary restrictions can make it difficult for Karens to obtain all of their essential nutrients through food intake, leading to malnutrition in children, inadequate protein during pregnancy and an increased risk of age-related disease.
Other taboos for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding include the consumption of raw eggs and alcohol, both considered harmful to the fetus. This can result in fetal death and should never be undertaken by those trying to conceive a child.
Another food taboo is the prohibition against pork due to its alleged breeding in unsanitary conditions. This is a widespread practice among Muslims and many Hindu families.
Some Karen groups also abstain from eating meat or eggs, believing these animals to be detrimental for their health. This practice mirrors the aversion to cows seen in India.
Many food taboos are rooted in ancient concepts such as yin and yang, hot and cold, and other theories related to health and illness. For instance, they don’t recommend eating fruit that’s too cold because it may dehydrate the body and make delivery difficult.
This explains why they are so dependent on their local foods and the villagers who grow them. These ingredients come largely from fields and forests, including fruits like mangoes, bananas, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, bamboo shoots and eggplants.
These vegetables are used to create delicious and healthy meals for the Karens. To add an extra special touch, they love flavoring their food with chilies and spices like turmeric, ginger, cardamom, garlic, tamarind and lime juice.
They have a special diet for pregnant women
Karens are a Burmese ethnic group living in hilly regions of Thailand. With a long history in these mountains, many Karens have emigrated there due to political unrest in Burma.
Their culture is well known and they are easily identified by their traditional clothing made from fine cotton that’s woven on a small “Backstrap” loom at home. Girls learn this craft at an early age and can earn a living for themselves making clothes, blankets and shoulder bags throughout their lives.
Their culture is heavily focused on family. Many live under one roof with their parents and grandparents, believing in spirit worship and Buddhism Animism; however, a minority are Christians as well.
Pregnant women follow a special diet to ensure the baby has an optimal birth. This includes plenty of bananas, green veggies and other fruits as they provide iron and vitamins. Furthermore, she will increase her omega-3 fatty acid intake through fish, nuts and seeds so she gets enough for brain development in the baby.
Karens not only consume a nutritious diet, but they also practice an ancient ritual called Geeju. These ceremonies are conducted by village elders or traditional healers to keep the spirits (Klar) of people or elephants from wandering away from their home.
It is believed that if a Klar (spirit) leaves the body it can lead to illness, and so the Karen people use food and betel nut as bait to lure them back. They will also tie white strings around villagers’ and elephants’ wrists during these ceremonies.
For centuries, the Karens have lived in high mountains where they employ their farming skills to cultivate crops and care for livestock. They maintain a variety of livestock including cattle, sheep, goats, cows, and elephants.
Karen people typically live in small villages and work at various jobs. Most Karens are agricultural farmers or elephant keepers, though some have become small business owners.
They have a tradition of funerals
The Karen people are an ethnic minority living in Burma (Myanmar), Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. Most Karen adhere to Buddhism Animism with a small minority practising Christianity; thus making up a very diverse population.
While in Northern Thailand, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit several Karen villages near Chiang Mai. These quaint mountain towns, hidden away from tourists, are filled with shady huts adorned with handwoven textiles and blankets.
These villagers are extremely proud of their culture and how they conduct themselves. Despite being a minority tribe, they have many unique traditions that define them – one being their unique approach to funerals.
Funerals are deeply-held traditions that involve a large gathering of family and friends coming together to bury the deceased. During this ritual, villagers pay their respects to their departed loved one while offering prayers to lift up their spirits.
Another essential aspect of a funeral is food. Villagers are forbidden from eating meats that have not been approved by their leaders, in order to safeguard their community from evil spirits and ensure their dead are safe from harm.
Karen people place great significance on this tradition, as it guarantees their deceased are properly cared for. To not disturb the spirits, they adhere to stringent regulations during funerals.
Following the ceremony, Karen families come together for a meal. They serve an assortment of dishes such as soup and rice along with vegetables and fruits.
These foods are not only delicious, but they’re also nutritious. Not to mention they’re cost-effective and simple to prepare.
Karen women are highly skilled weavers, producing a wide range of textiles like dresses, blankets and bags. These skills are acquired at an early age; weaving provides them with an income source from young on.
Karen women traditionally wear heavy brass rings around their necks, adding additional rings as they age. This custom was done years ago to protect their necks from predators such as tigers.