The Shwedagon is not a Burmese Deodorant
The Shwedagon Paya is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Burma. It is an ancient structure originally built between the 6th – 10th century, though has been rebuilt due to earthquakes and other disasters. In its enormous golden form it contains relics of the Buddha, over 2000 rubies, and over 5000 diamonds, including one 76 carat diamond at the top. Needless to say, it is an impressive sight.
Mark and I arrived during a rainstorm in the late afternoon and stayed to see it lit up after sunset. The storm had cooled off the tiles under our bare feet. I enjoyed finding Monday, the day I was born, is the tiger in Burmese tradition. In Thailand, and apparently Burma, it is important to know which day of the week you were born. There are different Buddhas and colors in Thailand, and in Burma, the were also different animals that represent each of the days of the week. I poured water over the Monday Buddha image, gave it my flower offering, and bowed before it.
My pictures should give a fairly good visual sense of what it was like, without its sheer magnitude. Here is a little text to go with the photos: Golden temple beauty was available from every angle. I was enchanted by the pink robed novice monks and how the older children looked out for the younger ones. An adorable little girl liked making the sound of the temple bells, “Gonnnng.” The volunteer cleaning brigade swept the temple as swiftly as if they were line dancing. The psychedelic/shlockified Buddhas had lights that danced around their enlightened heads. The bright golden stupas looked magnificent lit up against the darkening sky. It was time to leave when it felt like the monk was getting a bit too friendly.
Mark and I joked that Shwedagon or Sweat-be-gone would be a great name for a Burmese deodorant – strong enough for a Buddha, made for a man.
If you go to Burma, it is well worth the trip to visit the Shwedagon in all its golden grandeur.