Photos of Monasteries in Myanmar

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Monasteries in Myanmar

Therevada Buddhism is practiced by around 88% of the population in Myanmar and was brought here, probably during the 3rd century BCE by missionaries, sent by the great Indian emperor Asoka.

Botataung Paya
Pagoda, Botataung
Gilded Buddha statue
Buddha, bodhi tree
Hall, Botataung Paya
Gilded Buddha statue
Sule Paya
Pagoda of Sule Paya
Shwedagon Paya
Shrines, Shwedagon
Chaukhtatgyi Buddha
Ngahtatgyi Buddha
Shwesandaw Buddha
Buddha, Twante
Stupa, Twante
“Chinthe”, Bago
Shwethalyaung Buddha
Boy novice monks
Shwemawdaw Paya
Shrine, Shwemawdaw
Stupas, Shwemawdaw
“Kamakura Image”
Around the zedi
Praying in Shwemawdaw
Gilded roof
“Chinthe”, Shwemawdaw
Kha Khat Wain Kyaung
Entrance gate
Kyaik Pun Paya gate
Kyaik Pun Paya
Worship, Kyaik Pun
Young monks, Hpa-an
Aung Min Ga Lar Paya
The five holy images
Phaung Daw Oo Paya
Buddha and cobra
Tibetan-style Buddhas
In Nga Hpe Chaung
Monastery cats
Stupas, Nyaungshwe
Monastery work
“Chinthe” protector
Yadana Man Aung Paya
Three Buddhist nuns
Abbot, Ywa Thit
Small shrines
Gold painted shrine
Ywa Thit Monastery
Mahamuni Paya stupa
Ringing bronze bells
In Bagaya Kyaung
Young monk reading
Bagaya Kyaung, Inwa
Novice monks studying
Kyauktawgyi Paya
Shwekyimyint Paya
Eindawya Paya
Eindawya Paya stupa
Marble slab, Sandamani
Shwenandaw Kyaung

The Mon were the first people practicing Buddhism and in the 9th century CE the Pyu of northern Myanmar were practicing a mixture of Therevada and Mahayana-Tantric Buddhism from the Tibetan plateau, where they came from. In the 11th century the Bamar King Anawratha of the Bagan Empire decided that only "pure" Therevada Buddhism should be practiced and this is now predominantly the case although it is often practiced together with nat worship, the placation of spirits that may intercede in worldly affairs.

Ordained Buddhist monks and nuns, who collectively are called "Sangha", are a respected and venerated part of society; young boys are expected to become a novice monk (samanera) between the ages of 10 and 20 for a time, participating in "shinbyu", the novitiation ceremony, a great honour for the family. This is usually performed when they are about seven years old and involves a procession and ceremony in which they change from princely clothes into those of an ascetic, like the historical Buddha, Siddharta Gautama. There are approximately half a million Buddhist monks and around 75,000 nuns in Myanmar and they can be seen with their alms bowls in the morning and late afternoon, giving opportunities to the people to earn merit by donating food. There are many Buddhist festivals, including the "Paya pwe", pagoda festivals, usually held when the moon is full.

There are thousands of monasteries and pagodas all over the country. The most iconic and most sacred is without doubt the Shwedagon Paya in Yangon but there are many more; Buddha statues, including huge reclining Buddhas, can be seen in many places: the 55 metre long and 16 metre high Shwethalyaung Buddha in Bago is the largest at the moment. There are also schools in monasteries where children are sent to receive a Buddhist education, as has been the tradition before secular schools were brought in by the British; in fact, the Burmese word for school, "kyaung" is derived from "hpongyi kyaung", monastery.