The Mahamuni Pagoda or Mahamuni Buddha temple is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Burma. It is highly venerated in Burma as it is seen as a central of many citizen’s lives and an expression of representing Buddha’s existence.
Mahamuni Pagoda, also know as Maha Myat Muni, or Phaya Gyi; is a Buddhist temple and is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Burma, located southwest of Mandalay. The temple houses the Mahamuni Buddha image (literal meaning: The Great Sage) which is the most highly venerated in Burma and to many people’s lives, as it is seen as an expression of representing the Buddha’s life. According to ancient tradition, only five likenesses of the Buddha were said to have been made during his lifetime: Two were in India, two in paradise, and the fifth is the Mahamuni Buddha image in Myanmar. The pagoda was built in 1785 by King Bodawpaya of the Konbaung dynasty after the Mahamuni image was captured during the invasion of the Arakan Kingdom. The Mahamuni image is enshrined in a small chamber topped with a seven tiered Pyatthat Burmese style roof. The image is cast in bronze in the Bhumisparsha Mudra posture, wearing a crown set with precious stones like diamonds and rubies. It is 3.80 meters high and weighs about 6,5 tons and covered with a thick layer of gold leaf of about 15 centimeters.
A major annual pagoda festival known as the ‘Mahamuni Paya Pwe’ (‘pwe’ meaning “festival”) is held in early February, at the end of the Buddhist Lent to celebrate the history of the pagoda. During this festival, aside from the daily rituals, the Patthana from a “Book of Conditional Relations” is recited. This book is a philosophical text in Pali language which Buddha recounted to his mother in a sermon in Tavatimsa heaven. The festivities also include various forms of entertainment such as dance, music, theater… and there is also a social event, allowing families and friends gather to greet each other.