Burma – Shwedagon Paya

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangoon is the most important Buddhist Pagoda in Myanmar and a must see
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The Pagoda is supposed to be one of the oldest Buddhist Pagodas in the world and, built an a hill and nearly 100m high is clearly visible from various parts of the town.
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To get the best pictures I visited at dawn and dusk. These are also the times, when tourists are less and locals visit to pray.
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I approached from the south entrance where two gigantic Chinthe, half-lion,half-dragon beasts, guard the way up to the Pagoda. The surface of the Pagoda was covered for restoration purposes. In day light she is not as shiny as with the artificial light still glimmering when I took the photo (the following third one, taken in daylight, shows the difference).
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The stairways from all four directions are fully covered and full with shops. Reaching the top, the view is overwhelming, looking at dozens of Pagodas surrounding the big Paya. The hilltop, the Pagoda is based on, is rather small, so it is impossible to cover the whole area even with a wide angle lens.
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The last two pictures are illustrating the size of Shwedagon Paya in it´s dimension.
The Pagoda is encircled by so called planetary posts to the centre and many other shrines and religious statuary to the outer circle.
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Four large stupas mark the cardinal directions. In between are the so called plenatary posts.It is important for Burmese Buddhists to know on which day of the week they were born, as this determines their planetary post. There are eight planetary posts, as Wednesday is split in two (a.m. and p.m.). They are marked by animals that represent the day — garuda for Sunday, tiger for Monday, lion for Tuesday, tusked elephant for Wednesday morning, tuskless elephant for Wednesday afternoon, mouse for Thursday, guinea pig for Friday and nāga for Saturday. Each planetary post has a Buddha image and devotees offer flowers and prayer flags and pour water on the image with a prayer and a wish. At the base of the post behind the image is a guardian angel, and underneath the image is the animal representing that particular day. I took pictures of people performing their ritual at a Thursday shrine. Clearly visible the guardian angel. The mouse was small and did not fit into the picture.
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I followed the people around the Paya and collected impressions from the various other shrines.shwedagon paya-16shwedagon paya-20shwedagon paya-19
The following picture shows the Naungdawgyi Paya, the “Elder Brother Pagoda”, standing where Buddha´s eight hair relics were said to have first been inshrined.
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In the evening small candles were burning along the planetary posts. And a few other shrines had a nice sunset glimmer.
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It was time for prayers.
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Prayers were of course also to be seen during the day at various locations.
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The complex is a huge complex to be cleaned every morning. When I came the work was already done.
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It is nice to walk around the complex at a lower level. There you pass by several monasteries. This concludes the excursion to Shwedagon Paya.
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