If you are on a short business/leisure trip in Yangon (oldest name can traced as
"Dagon", then "Rangoon" (once with a local name
like Okalapa Aung Myae Yan Hnin and then finally reverted back to the current
city name Yangon) and won't able to find too much time to visit many beautiful
Burmese temples or Pagodas, along with the MUST-VISIT mother-of-all-Pagoda, Shwedagon
Pagoda, the SULE Pagoda can be another alternate destination. Simple because both
are very short drive from any part in the city of Yangon. In particular, SULE Pagoda
temple is just a few hundred years away from one of the popular business hotel called
Trader's Inn (in fact, the road
is simply referred as "Sule-Pagoda Road". Although Sule Pagoda is
not as prominent as Shwedagon Pagoda in height ( approx. halved at 48 metres with
the center dome) but it is located in the city and acted as an excellent landmark
for direction. Similarly, the octagonal-shaped Sule Pagoda is also claimed to be
over 2,000 years old and locals beliefs it enshrines a hair of the Buddha within
the tip of the central dome. In fact, another legend suggests this was the decision
making place to built the much larger Shwedagon Pagoda by an old Burmese
but as most locals would rather believing the Shwedagon is older than the Sule Pagoda,
this can be also highly debatable issue. A distinctive characteristic of this pagoda
is in its octagonal shape which continues right up to the tip of the Pagoda's bell
and inverted bowl.
claimed during British colonization, they used it as the nucleus* for the Yangon city planning and it has went
through one round of major refurbishment in 1880s. Overall, the methods in practicing
Buddhist ritual belief in Burma is quite difference from Thailand - over the centuries,
Buddhism in Thailand has evolved a little because many localized idols and legends
have been treated with great respect, which sometimes resulted in having gained more
in their popularity. Besides the territorial religious practice & beliefs also
seeing the north, central & southern Thailand may have preferences on their own.
I think the promotion of Buddhism via personalized amulets & medallions via the
last few centuries has made a world of difference (you cannot deny the fact it has
transformed as an commodity and/or industry).
* Note: After the Anglo-Burmese
War of 1880', the British ruled authorities plotted the central urban area of Yangon
with 500 acres for the purpose of locating for the influx of English inhabitants.
English engineer Major Fraser was believed to the one that has formatted the
core design of the new city planning of current city of Yangon back in 1852-53. Reference:
<<< --- (144k Jpeg). A front view of the
central dome after entering the Pagoda area. The temple is not exactly big in its
areas but it sits in the middle of a busy traffic junction (like a roundabout). Wouldn't
you believe - next to it is also a Mosque ! I thought that only can find such scenario
will only happened in Malaysia, widely regarded as the most moderate Islamic nation
in the world. One way or another, you can see how forgiving Buddhism is because if
history is true, establishment of the Sule Pagoda could have been here before the
mosque. Anyway, partly it is also due to fact Myanmar shares a common political borderline
with the hugely Islamic Bangladesh, influx of the Muslim neighbors over the centuries
has many shop operators around Sule Pagoda and the Independence statue run by Muslims.
weather was not particularly favorable, picture taken at the side entrance of the
Sule Pagoda, shoes or joss stick can be purchase at the main, front entrance.
you interest is on oriental Buddhist architecture studies, every corners and details
of the aged Sule Pagoda is a perfect spot to begin.
|The SULE Pagoda
has FOUR major entrances in its octagonal shape. Each of the four locations placed
a white jade Buddha at approx. 3-4 feet tall. Many worshipers circled around the
4 Statues to pour water onto them - couldn't find an answer why but common logic
is to cool the Buddha who protect the Pagoda all year round under the hot sun (pure
guess work..). The main theme is the central dome of the Pagoda where the local legend
or phase "Kyaik Athok" means "The Pagoda where a sacred
hair Relic is enshrined"." was placed.
<<< --- 200k Jpeg) & 238k Jpeg files 216k
So, if you are
very familiar with the Thai styles in their unique way in Buddhism practices, the
Burmese Buddhist is more straight forward in comparison, most often, at any temples,
you can only see devotees strictly performing deeds of religious merits,The popular
Thai way of wearing amulets is not popular here. I seldom even see temples have a
section promoting amulets or pendants. I have not been to the North or North Eastern
part of Burma during this trip, but a local told me the bolder areas could see localized
small statues such as this very original (& very popular) Burmese version of
called "Puah Kim" - approx. 5 " tall - where even many
Thai local folks at the North West Thailand cities like Chiangmai and ChiangRai favor this image for
prosperity in Business/Personal wealth.