A visit to Shwedagon Pagoda
As there are pagodas all over Myanmar, Myanmar is rightly known as the land of pagodas. Many of these pagodas are ancient historical pagodas. To name a few of them, we have the great Shwedagon in Yangon, the magnificent Shwemawdaw in Bago, the most venerable Mahamuni in Mandalay, and the majestic Shweseegon, the Ananda and the Thabbinnyu in Bagan. I had visited some of these pagodas. Now I like to describe my visit to the great Shwedagon in Yangon.
The Shwedagon is the most ancient historical pagoda in Myanmar. The history of the Shwedagon says that the Gotama Buddha gave eight hair relics to the two brothers, Taphussa and Ballika, who went to India as traders. They brought the relics to their hometown, Okkalapa, now known as Yangon. They gave the sacred relics to the king of Okkalapa. The king and the citizens built the first pagoda in Myanmar.
This pagada, now known as the Shwedagon, enshrines not only the eight hair relics of Gotama Buddha but also the relics of Kakusam Buddha, Konagon Buddha, and Kassapa Buddha. So it is regarded as the most sacred pagoda. The pagoda was rebuilt and enlarged by later kings. The last person to rebuild the pagoda to the present size and shape was Queen Shin Saw Pu.
The pagoda is 326 feet tall and its circumference at the base is 1420 feet. It is covered with gold from top to bottom. It glitters in the sunlight like solid gold. It is well known not only in Myanmar but also in the whole world. Many pilgrims from all over Myanmar as well as from abroad have visited the Shwedagon. Its festival is celebrated every year in the last month of the Myanmar calendar called Tabaung. It is celebrated for seven days culminating on the full-moon day of Tabaung. It was on that day last year that I visited this historical pagoda.
I went with my friend, Min Thu, who lives in Yangon. We went early in the morning which is the best time to worship the Buddha. Even at that time, the whole platform of the pagoda was crowded with pilgrims. Many people offered food, water, fruits, flowers and candlelight to the pagoda. I said my prayers most heartily and respectfully. We went around the pagoda and rang the big bell, sharing our good merit to all beings. We left the pagoda before it was too hot and too crowded.
At night Min Thu again took me to the great Shwedagon. As the elevators were crowded, we went up to the southern staircase. We had to jostle against the people all the way to get to the platform of the pagoda. The magnificent pagada was illuminated brightly with floodlights and spotlights. The pagoda stood tall and majestic, glittering in the darkness of the night.
We had a good night view of the great city from the pagoda. I again paid homage to the pagoda most heartily and respectfully. I felt thrilled and overjoyed. It was the happiest day of my life. I had always wished to visit this majestic historical pagoda. Now my wish was fulfilled. I also earned great good merit. I shall never forget this great remarkable day of my life.