Published on March 4, 2014
Inle Lake, the second largest lake in Myanmar, is a freshwater lake located in the Shan Hills. Hpaung Daw U Pagoda (also spelt Hpaung Daw Oo or Phaung Daw Oo) is a notable Buddhist site located on the Inle Lake in Shan State.
The pagoda houses five small gilded images of Buddha, which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms cannot be seen. The gold-leaf application to such excess is relatively recent. Old photographs hanging on the monastery walls show some of the images in a more pristine form. It is reported that some gold has been removed on occasion to reduce its mass.
With Burmese architectural style, this pagoda is the most important symbol of religion of the area. Inside the pagoda, visitors can see five gold-leaf covered small Buddha images at the central shrine which is used for the 18-day-long Phaung Daw Oo Festival. This festival is considered as one of the biggest festival in Myanmar and it is held from September to October.
Although the monastery is open to all for veneration, only men are permitted to place gold leaf on the images. Another part of the ritual for pilgrims is to place a small robe or thingan around the images, and to take the robe back to their houses and place it on their own altar as a token of respect for the Buddha and his teachings. Myanmar lies between two great civilizations, India and China but it has developed its own distinctive culture, mostly depends on the Buddhism.
The images are of differing sizes, range from about nine to eighteen inches tall. Being essentially solid gold, the images are extremely heavy. It is believed that the Buddha images were brought to Inlay Lake by King Alaungsithu. Annually, during the Burmese month of Thadingyut (from September to October), an 18-day pagoda festival is held, during which four of the Buddha images are placed on a replica of a royal barge designed as a hintha bird and taken throughout Inlay Lake.
a replica of a royal barge designed as a hintha bird
Hamsa is a mythical bird in Myanmar Legends
The barge is towed from village to village along the shores of the lake in clockwise fashion, and the four images reside at the main monastery in each village for the night. The high point of the festival is on the day when the images arrive at the main town of Nyaung Shwe, where most pilgrims from the surrounding region come to pay their respects and veneration.
The elaborately decorated barge is towed by several boats of leg-rowers rowing in unison, and other accompanying boats, making an impressive procession on the water.
Sometime in the 1960s during a particularly windy day, when the waves were high on the lake, the barge carrying the images capsized, and the images tumbled into the lake. It was said that they could not recover one image, but that when they went back to the monastery, the missing image was miraculously
Surrounding the Pagoda, and in the basement are shops selling traditional Shan and Burmese merchandise. A local market serves most common shopping needs and is held daily but the location of the event rotates through five different sites around the lake area, thus each of them hosting an itinerant market every fifth day.
The 5-day rotating market around Inle Lake offers a good opportunity to meet many different local tribes. Every 5 day all the hill tribe people come down from the mountains to buy and sell their goods, such as many different hand -made items
Text: Internet Pictures: Sanda Foişoreanu & Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu www.slideshare.net/michaelasanda Sound Saung Zaw Win Maung- The floral bridge
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