The Magwe Myathalun Pagoda festival will begin in Magwe on September 28 – the fifth waxing day of Thadingyut – a pagoda trustee said last week.
U Ohn Shwe, the head of the pagoda’s board of trustees, told The Myanmar Times the festival will continue for 20 days before concluding on October 17, the last waning day of Thadingyut.
“Magwe Myathalun Pagoda Festival is one of the most significant pagoda festivals in the country,” U Ohn Shwe said. “The festival has been running for many years and it attracts more than 1000 pilgrims from across Myanmar” as well as many locals.
“I expect this year it will draw at least that many.”
The board of trustees will convert religious buildings into guesthouses where pilgrims can stay free of charge, he said.
The festival area will encompass three to four acres, with more than 1000 shops. The board of trustees charges shop owners K20,000 to run a business for the duration of the festival, he added.
“At the festival the visitors can purchase locally made goods, like clothes and traditional medicines,” he said.
He added that pagoda festival rules forbid people to drink or sell alcohol, fight or gamble at the site. Sexual relations between couples are also banned.
Magwe Myathalun Pagoda is located on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River in Magwe, about 532km (331 miles) from Yangon.
According to legend, the pagoda was originally built by a wealthy man from Magwe named Thubawga. The original height of pagoda was 15.6 metres (52 feet) and it was extended to 24.6m by Bagan’s King Saw Lu (1077-1084), who enshrined 120 relics and seven gold Buddha images inside it. The pagoda was damaged by an earthquake in 1847 and later rebuilt to its present height of 31.2m.