Paya

The pagodas here are called paya, and they are gorgeous. Myanmar Buddhists really know how to worship in style.

This country is heavily influenced by many of its neighbors, and I found that at the Shwedagon pagoda in particular, there were a few viewpoints that made me think of India, China, and Thailand.

This is such a large complex that you can spend hours wandering around and looking at all the small buildings, different views, and smallest details. You can really make a day of it. So, I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising to see that many people brought food to eat while at the pagoda, and that some people were even stretched out on the floors, sleeping.

We learned that people will often come to the temple and stay for the whole day, so they take time to eat and relax- even in the middle of a worship area.

The two main paya that we visited in Yangon were both set up as a series of worship spaces around a central dome. So, you can walk (clockwise) all around the paya, with beautiful views of an improbably gold and shining central dome and spire reaching far up into the sky, with prayer spaces at the 4 compass points and in between. And you get to see a lot of monks!

Apparently, some of the buildings have such a preponderance of Buddhas because so many have been donated over the years. It almost looks like they’re running out of places to put them.

Foreigners pay a special fee to get in, but we guessed that the locals come to worship for free, as it should be… plus, they give a lot in donations (and Buddhas) while there.

It was interesting to see so many different types of buildings/architecture in one place. Some structures were of wood, some were mirrored, some were golden, and some were white and stone-like- maybe marble?

If reports are true, Shwedagon is over 2,600 years old, which may make it the oldest pagoda in the world. With all that gold, it looks pretty new. It’s obviously well-cared for and carefully maintained.

Many of the buildings had fierce creatures outside them.  But this guy just made me think: “we’ve got a pepper baaaaar”.  The resemblance is uncanny… and creepy.  🙂

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