This is the last post about my trip to Yangon. Even though I stayed there for just three days, they were so long and intense, so packed with walks and stories, that one post could not fit them all, so I had to split the contents in no less than four entries (you can check them here: monochrome scenes, color scenes and Circular Train). Today we will conclude this beautiful journey with, perhaps, the most recognizable aspect of Myanmar's culture, and, maybe because of that obviousness, I decided to leave it for the closure of this small series. The topic is no other than religion. Myanmar is a deeply religious country, Buddhist in its vast majority, and signs and traces of that can be seen and felt everywhere around the country. Let's begin with its most iconic manifestation: Buddhist monks.
|Triumvirate, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Reddish tones, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Refreshment time, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Initiation, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Unusual exposure, GM1 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
The reddish and saffron robes of Buddhist monks are ubiquitous around the city, and you will spot them quickly, both old and young, walking in the streets or praying in the pagodas, leisurely strolling in the parks or commuting by public transportation. People respect them profoundly and their presence gives the city an air of purity and retreat despite the chaos and crowds.
|Water and prayers, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Load & burden, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Following the current, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|One of a kind, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
But, as common as monks are in Yangon, there is something else that catches everyone's attention even more clearly than them and from a very far distance, for they are tall and shiny: pagodas. There are dozens of pagodas and temples in Yangon, and they all come in different sizes and conditions, but they all have some things in common. To point out a few: pointed, golden stupas, and crowds of devotees praying or resting within their sacred grounds.
|Sule Pagoda, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Botataung Pagoda, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Maha Wizara Pagoda, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Maha Wizara & moon, GM1 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|Maha Wizara through the canopy, GM1 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|Presences, GM1 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
But there is one particular pagoda that, singlehandedly, manages to attract more visitors to this city than any other landmark, and that is, obviously, Shwedagon. With is vantage location on top of a generous hill, the massive stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda dominates the whole city and acts as a guide and shepherd for everyone around. It is the most sacred place in the whole country, as it guards relics from past Buddhas, and it receives the visits of thousands of people everyday, both local devotees and foreign tourists, but the pagoda is definitely worth a visit, and walking quietly around its grounds, seeing how the light changes gradually, reflected in the shiny tiles, while the monks pray in every shrine, is a deeply touching experience.
|Shwedagon Pagoda I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Shwedagon Pagoda II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda III, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Night at Shwedagon Pagoda, GM1 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|Staircase to Shwedagon, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|A quiet corner I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|A quiet corner II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Candle lights, GM1 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
But, even though pagodas are the most usual sights along Yangon streets, the long colonial past the country endured has left its mark in the architecture very visibly, and a few elegant, beautiful Christian churches can still be seen here and there, witnesses of a country that is starting a rapid change in a direction not very clear yet.
|Holy Trinity Cathedral I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Holy Trinity Cathedral II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|The towers of Saint Mary's Cathedral, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
Thanks, Yangon, for all the sights and smiles that you have granted me during these three days. Rest assured that I will be back again!