Inle Lake: Hpaung Daw U PagodaMarch 12 in Myanmar ⋅ ⛅ 88 °F
The pagoda houses five small gilded images of Buddha, which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms cannot be seen. The gold-leaf application to such excess is relatively recent. Old photographs hanging on the monastery walls show some of the images in original form. It is reported that some gold has been removed on occasion to reduce its mass. Only men are permitted to place gold leaf on the images. Another part of the ritual for pilgrims is to place a small robe around the images, and to take the robe back to their houses and place it on their own altar as a token of respect for the Buddha and his teachings.
The highlight is an 18-day pagoda festival held, during which four of the Buddha images are placed on a replica of a royal barge designed as a hintha bird and taken throughout Inlay Lake. One image always left at the temple. The elaborately decorated barge is towed by several boats of leg-rowers rowing in unison, and other accompanying boats, making an impressive procession on the water. The barge is towed from village to village along the shores of the lake in clockwise fashion, and the four images are left at the main monastery in each village for the night.
The high point of the festival is on the day when the images arrive at the main town of Nyaung Shwe, where most pilgrims from the surrounding region come to pay their respects, the Saopha of Yawnghwe would personally welcome the images. The images would be taken from the barge and a grand procession would take them to the palace or haw of the Saopha, entering the prayer hall from the eastern entrance, and where it would reside for a few hours. The public was allowed inside the prayer hall of the haw to pay their respects.
Sometime in the 1960s during a windy day, when the waves were high on the lake, the barge carrying the images capsized, and the images tumbled into the lake. They only recovered four images. but when they went back to the monastery, the missing image was miraculously sitting in its place.Read more