At some point in our lives, out of desperation, or maybe just for the fun of it, whether we believe in it or not, we make wishes. Some wait for a meteor shower, or when they chance upon a shooting star. Others utter wishes when visiting a church for the first time, or when throwing a coin into a wishing well. And, of course, each time we blow out a candle on our birthday cake.
Myanmar’s iconic Shwedagon Pagoda
Myanmar’s wish-fulfilling Buddha
Did you know that you might just have your wish granted by visiting Myanmar? Well, I didn’t—until I went there to visit a friend in 2015.
There’s a pagoda in Myanmar called The Shwedagon Pagoda. It is Myanmar’s most sacred site, as it is believed to house the sacred relics of the Buddha. It is an iconic landmark located in the city of Yangon. You won’t miss it, as it is a towering 99 meter-high stupa plated with sheets of gold. It is built on a hill 168 feet above sea level; its glowing beauty can be seen in most areas of Yangon, day and night.
Adorned with thousands of diamonds and precious stones, including an enormous emerald which bounces the rays of the sun as it sets, the top of the stupa is embellished with a 76-carat diamond enclosed in a diamond bud. There are four entrances, each guarded by a pair of 30-foot tall leogryphs (lion-like creatures) also known as Chinthe.
Giant leogryphs also known as Chinthe, at the Shwedagon Pagoda entrance
The Planetary posts
At the center of the complex, you will find the eight planetary posts surrounding the main stupa—The Shwedagon Pagoda. Apart from representing eight planets, it also represents each day of the week—with Wednesday split into morning and evening. Each post has a Buddha statue and is marked by animals. Monday is marked by a tiger; Tuesday, a lion; Wednesdays are marked by elephants: morning – a tusked elephant, and evening – a tusk-less elephant; a mouse for Thursday; a guinea pig for Friday; a mythical serpent called “naga” for Saturday, and for Sunday, a mythical bird-like creature called “garuda”.
Wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight
To make a wish, one must know the day they were born and find their corresponding planetary post labeled as a “corner”. Once you find your post, you will find a small bowl, which you need to fill with water. Pour the water over the Buddha to “bathe” him as you pray and make a wish. You may also offer flowers, candles, and incense, if you like. There is a monk at every post who will bless you with prayers. Donations are not required, but you may willingly do so.
Bathing the Buddha at the Saturday corner
I was born on a Saturday, so I made a wish at the Saturday corner. I did it for fun holding on to a little hope that it might just come true, because who knows, right? Two weeks later, I had a dream about what I wished for. It felt so real, I knew in my heart, it was going to happen.
A few days later, my wish was granted.
It happened. That made my visit to Myanmar all the more an unforgettable one.
Monks offering candles
Shwedagon Pagoda’s Do’s and Don’ts
If you want to go to Myanmar and see the absolutely gorgeous pagoda, here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Shwedagon:
- You must walk barefoot inside the temple complex. Visitors will be asked to take off their socks, shoes, and slippers at any of the four entrances.
- Observe strict dress code. Just like in other temples, one must not enter wearing revealing attire. Shoulders and legs must be covered. No sleeveless shirts, miniskirts and shorts. Shawls and Longyis (traditional Burmese pants) are available for rent at the ticket booth.
- Observe silence as people go there to honor the Buddha and offer prayers.
- Do not, in any way, disrespect the Buddha or any part of the temple complex. It is a place of worship and spiritual enrichment.
- When you sit, you must have your feet tucked and not pointing at the Buddha.
- Do not touch any Buddha statue nor point your fingers toward it.
- The temple is open everyday as early as 4 in the morning and closes at 10 in the evening.
- No littering.
- Make that wish from the bottom of your heart, and just believe. ;-)
Now pack your bags, grab your ticket and passport and I wish you all the luck!. May all your wishes come true—like mine did.