Mahamuni Pagoda – Mandalay

Mahamuni Paya

Mahamuni Pagoda or Mahamuni Buddha Temple
The Mahamuni means the Great Image. Other names the statue is known by are Maha Muni Buddha, Maha Myat Muni Paya, Rakhine Paya and Payagyi.

‘Mahamuni Temple Buddha the most important Buddha in Myanmar.’ U Sandima our buddhist monk guiding us round Mandalay is showing us the Mahamuni Pagoda. ‘All Burma people come here to do pilgrimage to Buddha. Only men put gold on. No women allowed to do it.’

We are transfixed. The Buddha is enshrined in a small ornate chamber and has several tiered roofs above. We see the Buddha statue shinning in the lit alcove.
The image at Mahamuni Buddha Temple is said to have been made at Arakan with Buddha breathing on it to imbue the image with his spiritual essence.

Buddha himself said this image of him will last for 5,000 years as his representative here in Mandalay.

The Buddha image, cast in bronze weighs 6.5 tonnes. Standing almost 4m high, and covered in gold leaf, it was shifted to Mandalay in 1784 when the Arakan kingdom was conquered. As one of only 5 images made in Buddhas lifetime, (the ancient Buddhist traditions say 2 in India, 2 in paradise and the Mahamuni Buddhist Image in Burma), this statue is highly venerated by Burmese and Buddhist pilgrims.

The Washing of the Buddha Ritual at 4am each morning shows how much this statue is venerated., The traditions are continuing to be upheld, with many devotees arriving to witness the washing of the Buddhas face, cleaning of his teeth, anointing him with sandalwood paste, and finally sprinkling the Mahamuni Buddha image with rose water.

Gold leaf applied to the face of the statue by male devotees is changing the face of the statue, and this was confirmed when damaged by fires in the 1880’s with 91 kilos of extra gold recovered from the site. This was then turned into a gold robe for The Mahamuni Buddha to wear.

Looking at the Buddha statue with men waiting in line to place their pieces of gold leaf, and the praying seated women in front, its a world of difference.
We are struck by the quiet happiness of the women sitting talking in groups with the kids playing, as well as the monks walking, novices playing, elders praying to Buddha, and the atmosphere of absolute respect and awe of the devotees.

Entrance Fee:
The Mahamuni Temple is open 6am to 8pm. The fee is $4 usd per person.

Getting There:
From downtown Mandalay a taxi is 4,000 kyat and rickshaw 2,000 kyat. We elected to hire a taxi for the full 4 days we were in Mandalay.

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