I could visit Shwedagon 8 days a week and still find something new

//I could visit Shwedagon 8 days a week and still find something new

When the Beatles sang Eight Days A Week, they took their inspiration for the title from a punishing work schedule; they should have visited Burma (Myanmar) where, according to the Buddhist calendar, there actually are eight days in every week.
True, two of them are Wednesday, which is divided into separate 12-hour days in order to tally with the eight planets that form such an important part of the religion and its beliefs. But eight there are, and nowhere are they more apparent than at the simply magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, the largest, richest, and most sacred of all the Buddhist shrines in the country.
Planetary posts – shrines containing astrological and religious statues and symbols – surround the awe-inspiring 99-meter high central stupa said to contain eight strands of the Buddha’s hair.
Devotees prostrate themselves in prayer on the marble tiles in front of the post associated with their birth day, they offer garlands of flowers, and they joyously drench each figure – and often themselves – in water using the bowls and cups at each station.
The elation of the celebrations was one of the abiding memories of my visit to Shwedagon in December 2012. Just over 12 months later, taking a cruise with Voyages of Discovery, I am fortunate enough to return to Yangon and to make two visits to the pagoda; in the velvet dark of evening and again in late afternoon.
Walking clockwise around the pagoda platform, it’s impossible not to be moved, or to share in the life-confirming joy all around. It would take a particularly mean spirit to remain unimpressed by the riches – tons of gold and thousands of jewels – adorning the stupa and the multitude of Buddha images in its surrounding shrines.
Admittedly, they contrast sharply with the poverty of most of Myanmar’s people, and the simplicity of their lives. But the riches were freely given, in the same way as food is donated daily to Buddhist monks, in order to reap rewards in a future life or lives.
My gallery of Shwedagon pictures is on my Facebook page, where you can also find more pictures from my visit to Yangon.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:28+00:00 30 December 2013|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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