Temples, Synagogues, and Catholic churches in the land of the buddhist

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St Johns Catholic Church – Yangon

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Catholic Cathedral-Yangon Myanmar

 

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Myanmar is said to be 95% Buddhist with sprinkling of other denominations scattered throughout the country.  A smidgen of Hindu, a speck of Christians, a spattering of Jews and the largely opposed

hindu temple-yangonminority of Muslims. Before arriving I knew of the religious uprising that was occurring in the Rhogina region in the northern states of Myanmar between the buddhist and the Muslims however I was not aware of the extreme separatism that exists here. In fact, I feel it my responsibility to share some of what I have learned about Buddhist during my time traveling through SE ASIA,  I think there lives a misconception that Buddhist are very “Zen”  and a peaceful brood. However, as I travel throughout some of these asian countries where the majority of people are buddhist I have become keenly aware of the rather unapologetic and in flexible views of buddhist. It appears to me that there is a widely unspoken understanding of Equal but Separate. I have been quite surprised with the amount of religious unrest that exist between the Muslim and the Buddhist particularly.  I have recently been made aware of  the 969 Movement which is a anti-islamic movement created by none other than BUDDHIST MONKS. The 969 movement is growing rampantly and a stark contrast to the preconceived ideals of buddhism, which according to most of us is a religion and lifestyle that is built on peace and pacifism.  Not so much here, Myanmar, where it is said that 90% of the world monks come from, it seems like an odd contradiction. Actually Ashin Wirathu- a buddhist monk  is the creator of this anti-muslim movement, he has been  nicknamed the “Burmese Bin Laden” .

The 969 number stands for three things: the 9 stands for the special attributes of Buddha, the founder of the religion; the 6 stands for attributes of his teachings of dharma; and finally, the last 9 stands for special characteristics or attributes of the clergy. Stickers and posters are everywhere . These openly racists icons warn Muslims away from  buddhist shop owner, taxis , and  restaurants but rest assured the muslims have a similar icon which warns buddhist from their establishments.

My Myanmar friend does a good job of explaining the intolerance as a way of preserving the history and culture of the Myanmar people from the immigrants from Bangladesh  and other Muslim nations. For her it comes not as form of racism but more from a sense of wanting to preserve her history and religion. She also goes on to explain that the Muslims here have long ago separated themselves from the rest of the people here in Myanmar and only now that the Buddhist are staging their own demonstration does it become a conflict. I think it is all very interesting, especially considering that most of us would believe that buddhist are mostly accepting but unfortunately I have witness more intolerance than acceptance.  ( so much for being ZEN)

The long and short of that sad little diatribe is that there is good and bad in all groups, religions and races. And just because a group would seem to be impervious to judgment, alienation and terroristic acts does not mean that there are some among them who harbor hate and intolerance!

Myanmar’s legislation will vote in the next coming weeks regarding a bill that strictly prohibits and  makes it illegal for individuals to marry outside of their region. There have been some speculation that this piece of legislation will be removed however that is largely unlikely  given the overall strong hold that the restrictive government still has on the citizens of Myanmar. This country may have just become open to the rest of the world in the last 3 years and the government may  appear to be “reorganized” to make opportunity and civil liberties  more accessible to its all of its citizens, I fear that there is still quite a bit of oppression and military-like control.  Please keep in mind this is just my view from where I sit;)

I know in America we feel like we haven’t gotten very far where race relations or religious freedoms  are concerned but each day that I spend witnessing the oppression and the extreme separatism that exist first hand,  I am grateful to live in the wonderful US of A,  with more religious , cultural, and civil liberties than most other countries in the world. To that I say ( everyone sing along with me) …… ” and I am proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free…”

 

 

 

Gardenia/lime garland offerings for the HINDU Gods at the Temple. Made of gardenia /lime/leavesofferings for the Hindu Gods

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Shri Kali Temple- Yangon

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Goddess Lakshmi means Good Luck to Hindus. The word ‘Lakshmi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word “Laksya”, meaning ‘aim’ or ‘goal’, and she is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. Lakshmi is the household goddess of most Hindu families, and a favorite of women. I wonder if this is the HINDU GODDESS who will bring me a fantastic fellow?? Either way I shall pray to her…. it  couldnt hurt. Lakshmi did I mention that I need him to be  attractive, kind,smart, funny and wealthy!! lol. Just thought if we are sending out prayers I ought to be as specific as possible right?? Anywy, here I gave a prayer to all the beautiful, amazing, funny, fearless and brave women I know!!

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hindu temple in yangon- located in the little part of yangon which is called little INDIA .

hindu temple in yangon- located in the little part of yangon which is called little INDIA .

Shri Kali Temple, Yangon Hindu TempleIt was built by Tamil migrants whilst Burma Province was part of British India. The temple is noted for its colorful architecture, especially its roof, which contains images and stone carvings of many Hindu gods.

Shri Kali Temple, Yangon
Hindu Temple. It was built by Tamil migrants while Burma Province was part of British India. The temple is noted for its colorful architecture, especially its roof, which contains images and stone carvings of many Hindu gods.

 

 

pigeons outside the temple.

pigeons outside the temple.

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Jewish Synagogue - yangon

Jewish Synagogue – yangon

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A Sterling Silver Torah Case.

 

 

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The handwritten scrolls of the torah are stored in the holiest spot within a synagogue, the Aron Kodesh (“Holy Ark”), which is usually an ornate curtained-off cabinet or section of the synagogue built along the wall that most closely faces Jerusalem, the direction Jews face when praying.

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silver protective vessels for the torah scrolls

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lit a candle and said a prayer for a special friend (AG)

lit a candle and said a prayer for a special friend (AG)

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This temple is maintained by one man via donations and his life savings. There used to be more than 2000 Jewish people in the country of Myanmar currently there are 20 reported with 8 living in Yangon.

This temple is maintained by one man via donations and his life savings. There used to be more than 2000 Jewish people in the country of Myanmar currently there are 20 reported with 8 living in Yangon.

Dating from 1896, this is the only Jewish temple remaining in the city.

Dating from 1896, this is the only Jewish temple remaining in the city.

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This is the only Synagogue in  Yangon

This is the only Synagogue in Yangon. Only 8 Jews remain in the city, 20 in the entire country.

 

                                                               

 

 

 

 

      Shabat Shalom!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “Temples, Synagogues, and Catholic churches in the land of the buddhist

  1. Kim!! Glad to see the blog post- amazing pics and such interesting learnings- I can’t wait for the one on one lesson and to go thru ALL the pictures!! Be safe, thinking of you, and keep blogging your adventure!

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