Myanmar Diary: Making a Monk Laugh
Myanmar is a country that is devoutly Buddhist. There are said to be more stupas, the dome-like shrines that contain Buddhist relics, than people! And indeed, seemingly everywhere I turned, the tip of a stupa soared up from the landscape.
I happened to be in Myanmar on Tazaungdaing, the full moon festival celebrated in Tazaungmon, the eighth month of the Burmese calendar. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Tazaungdaing marks the end of the rainy season. It was truly a magical experience, as it had been raining heavily before I arrived at Shwedagon Pagoda, stopped when I was there, and then started immediately after I left. I chalked it up to good karma.
Shwedagon Pagoda, the holiest and most breathtaking pagoda in Myanmar, was abuzz with activity. While trying not to slip on the wet tiles, I excitedly navigated my way around the giant golden pagoda, weaving my way through the throngs of ordinary citizens and monks lighting candles and offering well wishes to the Buddha.
After a quick introduction to Buddhism, I learned that the day of my birth is connected to events that affect the trajectory of my life. I finally arrived at my Friday post (also Buddha’s day of birth) to light a candle. As I struggled to find a spot for my candle, a group of young monks in crimson robes came up beside me. When I placed my candle precariously on the ledge, it teetered over and the young monk next to me looked up and giggled at my blunder, then ran off with his friends. I think Buddha was also silently laughing.
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To view our varied trips to Myanmar, click here.