The Sule Paya

Sule Pagoda, in the heart of downtown YangonThe road that runs in front of Traders is Sule Pagoda Road, and the shrine is visible fromThe northern entrance to the Sule Pagoda the hotel. The road actually dead ends into the shrine, whose golden dome or zedi contains a hair given by the Buddha to two Burmese merchants. It is reputedly over two thousand years old, all though it has been through so many renovations that its actual origins are obscure. Readily accessible from downtown, a visit to the Sule Pagoada or Paya (Paya is a term that indicates a person or place of great spriritual value) it is a good prelude to the much more elaborate Shwedagon Paya, which is actually an entire temple complex. Like Shwedagon, the Sule Pays is built in the typical Burmese Mon style, with four entrances, facing the four compass points. The photo to the right shows the north or main entryway, overshadowed in this picture by the shrine's zedi. If the Shwedagon Pagoda is the spiritual heart of Yangon, the Sule Pagoda is the human center of worship, bustling with common folk, and lined with merchants.

The tops of the  shrines framed against the stupaEntering the shrine, the zedi is ringed by a series of shrines, each dedicated to a to different god. Each diety and shrine is assigned an astrological sign, One of the shrines that line the circular domeand the entire circular pathway around the stupa represents a journey through the celestial sphere. The photo to the left captures the spires of several of the shrines, set against the backdrop of the central zedi. These smaller shrines (such as the one shown to the right) honor individual dieties in the Buddhist pantheon. The shrines themselves are small enclosures housing a silver, gold, or porcelain likeness of the diety. The devout enter the shrine and offer alms, in the form of food or flowers as they petition their respective god.

The Kassaga BuddhaThe dieties occupying the four compass points are the most significant, as they represent the historical incarnations of the Buddhas. The photo to the right captures the central idol at the west entrance, the temple of the Kassaga Buddha. the precusor to Siddhartha Gautama. The golden idol is encased in a glass and gold leaf enclosure.

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