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Follow her as she prepares and partakes the "bread for the stomach" in http://beforesixdiet.blogspot.com/ . And while you are full at it, she offers you the "bread for the soul" in her travels by foot and by thoughts in http://footandfire.blogspot.com/ Happy Reading!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sule Pagoda and Botataung Pagoda in Yangon



This is the Sule Pagoda. It is in the heart of Yangon. This is an important religious as well as political site for the Myanmarese. Wikipedia says of this pagoda: This is a Burmese stupa located in the heart of downtown Yangon, occupying the centre of the city and an important space in contemporary Burmese politics, ideology and geography. According to legend, it was built before the Shwedagon Pagoda during the time of the Buddha, making it more than 2,500 years old. Burmese legend states that the site for the Shwedagon Pagoda was asked to be revealed from an old nat who resided at the place where the Sule Pagoda now stands. The Sule Pagoda has been the focal point of both Yangon and Burmese politics. It has served as a rallying point in both the 1988 uprisings and 2007 Saffron Revolution. The pagoda is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List.

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The entrance to Sule pagoda. According to Burmese legend the site where the Sule pagoda now stands was once the home of a powerful nat (spirit) named Sularata (the Sule Nat). The king of the Nats, Sakka, wished to help the legendary king Okkalap build a shrine for the Buddha's sacred hair-relic on the same site where three previous Buddhas had buried sacred relics in past ages. Unfortunately, these events had happened so long ago that not even Sakra knew exactly where the relics were buried. The Sule nat, however, who was so old that his eyelids had to be propped up with trees in order for him to stay awake, had witnessed the great event. The gods, Nats and humans of the court of Okkalapa therefore gathered around the Sule Ogre and asked him the location, which he eventually remembered. (Wikipedia)

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The stupa of Sule Pagoda. The Sule Pagoda incorporated the original Indian structure of the stupa, which initially was used to replicate the form and function of a relic mound. However, as Burmese culture became more independent of its South Indian influences, local architectural forms began to change the shape of the pagoda. It is believed to enshrine a strand of hair of the Buddha that the Buddha himself is said to have given to the two Burmese merchant brothers, Tapissa and Balika. The dome structure, topped with a golden spire, extends into the skyline, marking the cityscape. (Wikipedia)

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Entrance to the Batataung Pagoda street leading to the Yangon river

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The Botataung Pagoda on the banks of the river in downtown Yangon is one of the city's most highly revered temples. The 40 meter high golden pagoda enshrines a sacred hair relic of the Buddha. The Botataung Pagoda, also spelled Botahtaung Pagoda was built some 2,500 years ago by the Mon people. In the second World War the pagoda was destroyed during an airforce bombing mission aimed at the nearby docks. Rebuilding started in 1948 following the original design. In the center of the tiled platform stands the main stupa surrounded by a a number of smaller stupas. The main stupa is the unique feature of the Botataung monastery; it enshrines the sacred Buddha relic and it is hollow and open to the public. Seated on a high pedestal in a very ornate pavilion is the Royal Palace Bronze Buddha image. The image that was cast in 1859 by order of King Mindon was taken to Britain during the colonial years and returned to Burma a few years after gaining independence. (http://www.renown-travel.com/)


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Botataung means 1,000 military leaders. This name was derived from an event that took place more than 2,000 years ago when eight hair relics from the Buddha were brought over to Yangon from India.
When the relics arrived, a guard of honour of 1,000 military leaders was formed to pay respect to the relics. The eight hair relics were enshrined in the pagoda, later to be distributed to other pagodas, with only one remaining in the Botataung Pagoda. The main stupa is the most unique feature of the Botataung Pagoda. While almost all stupas are solid and closed to the public, this stupa is hollow and people can walk through it. Following a walkway with glass mosaic walls the visitors will see several chambers that contain glass showcases containing ancient artifacts including some very old Buddha images that were discovered in the stupa after it was destroyed in 1943. One chamber of which all walls and the ceiling are covered with gold contains the sacred Buddha relic. The relic is enshrined and exhibited in an ivory shrine studded and decorated with gold, diamonds and precious jewels.

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In 1943 the Botataung Pagoda was mostly destroyed by air force bombings. During the rebuilding that started in 1948 a relic chamber was discovered. Inside the chamber was a stone casket encircled by Nat (spirit) figures standing guard. When the casket was opened, a wealth of ancient artifacts was found within it, including images of gold and silver, precious stones and plaques with Buddhist depictions. On the back of one of the plaques depicting the Buddha is a text inscribed in Mon language. A miniature pagoda made of pure gold was found within a second casket. Under the gold pagoda was a very small cylindrical shaped gold object that contained one hair and two tiny body relics, believed to be from the Buddha.  (http://www.renown-travel.com/)

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