Saturday, 9 June 2012

Vesakha Puja at Shwedagon Pagoda

This was my plan, to celebrate the birthday of Buddha's this year at the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese, Shwedagon Pagoda. This pagoda is special, not because all the Gold wrap around here, but It is said that the Shwedagon Pagoda is 2500 years old and, according to the records by Buddhist monks, it was built before Gautama Buddha died in 486 BC.

What make me surprised is,when i enter the pagoda, all space inside was full of people that want to pray and celebrate the vesakha within very high enthusiasm. I'm little bit sad because it'e very difficult to me to make good picture in the crowds.

For a foreigner need to pay 3500 Kyat or around 5$ to enter Shwedagon Pagoda , they will give you blue sticker and you will get special service inside :), but it's make me feel guilty because many burmase waiting in long queues crowd, but foreigner have own queau and always be the first to enter the lift.

Even inside is very crowded, but as a women im feel 100% safe, it's very different if you go to(ex : india) where some of harassment often occurs especialy for women in crowded area. Over all till today, i can say burmase very friendly and respecfuly with other.

Every sacred place always have interesting stories and myths behind. Here the story start, Over 2,500 years ago, there lived a king by the name of Okkalapa. He was ruler of Suvannabhumi and ruled over the Talaings. At this time, Siddharta Guatama was living in northern India. He was still a young man and was not yet recognized as the Buddha.

It was and is believed that a new Buddha, or “Enlightened One”, will come into being once every 5,000 years. At the time of Okkalapa, it had been approximately 5,000 years since the last Buddha, and it was considered time once again.

But Okkalapa was concerned, as a new Buddha had not come to be known yet, and if it took too long he feared the hill could lose its holiness. He went to the hill to pray and to meditate, unaware of Siddharta Guatama’s coming into enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in northern India at the same time.

According to area legend, he appeared to Okkalapa and told him to be patient, that his wish for the hill would soon be granted.
As Guatama was reaching the end of his 49 days of meditation, he was visited by two brothers. Their names were Tapussa and Bhallika, and they happened to be from Myanmar and were subjects of Okkalapa. These two merchant brothers present Guatama Buddha with a gift of some honey cake, as they recognized him as The Enlightened One. To express his thanks to them, he pulled out 8 of his hairs off of his head, and gave the hairs to Tapussa and Bhallika. They took the hairs and headed back home. However, during their journey they were twice robbed, and 4 of the sacred hairs were taken from them. By the time they reached Myanmar, they had only 4 of The Buddha’s hairs left.

However, their return was still a celebrated one by King Okkalapa and his people, and a large party was thrown in honor of the brothers. It was decided that a shrine place should be built on Singuttara Hill to house these newest relics. At the party in their honor, the brothers presented a casket containing the Buddha’s hairs to their king, and he opened it

When the king opened the golden casket in which the brothers had carried the hairs, incredible things happened. There were great tremors upon the earth, a great rocking earthquake. It is also said that all of the trees then burst into blossom and lovely jewels fell from the sky.
And Shwedagon start to build...

The most interesting story that i read make me think, if this pagoda is a strong survivor. Why..? long long years be passed with withstood earthquakes, invasions, pillaging, foreign occupation and an internal stairwell fire in 1931 that destroyed many ancient monuments.
But look, this Pagoda still standing, surrounded by a strong aura filled with the glory and pride.

I sit a long time here, i saw many people pray, i hear a lot of wish and puja fly to the sky, i felt a new hope and love was born here from one person to another person throught the age of Shwedagon Pagoda.

Accidentaly, my brain remind one buddha mantra,
"Lokah Samaastha Sukhino Bhavantu"

-May ALL beings everywhere be happy and free. (and through my thoughts, my words, and my actions, may I in some way contribute to that well-being and happiness)-

To be continued...

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