Shwedagon Pagoda continues renovation work despite closure

18 September 2020

Shwedagon Pagoda, a magnificent religious structure in Yangon for Myanmar, is carrying out renovation work while it is being shut down.

Pagoda trustee are working on renovation and maintenance of Shwedagon Pagoda, the fame of Yangon, while it is being closed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic and no visitors are allowed.

Temples and pagodas in Myanmar including Yangon were not allowed to have any visitors in order to avoid crowds because of the COVID-19.  Temples and pagodas were shut down starting from the first week of April before the release of the stay-at-home order, but some of the pagodas are reopened at the end of July and earlier August when the situation is getting back to almost normal. However, famous pagodas including Shwedagon are still closed.

The Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the tourist attractions in Myanmar and it is the most sacred Buddhist stupa in Myanmar and full of invaluable art of Myanmar.

U Boe Thin, Member of Shwedagon Pagoda Board of Trustees, said, “When the pagoda is closed during the COVID period, the regular maintenances of the pagoda are proceeding. For the electricity, we have the electricity team. For the labor strength of the whole pagoda, we also have the consulting teams. We have to submit to these teams and lead teams. In this period, we were undertaking the regular maintenance of the pagoda. We are now carrying out the things to support the control of the COVID like having sessions for washing hands and the temperature testing sessions. We undertook these protections since the earliest days of COVID-19 in case the visits to the pagodas were allowed. In the closing periods, we changed the floor of the temples and polishing the slabs. For example, there were broken slabs in the southern entrance of the pagoda and we changed them. And there are also maintenances for the sculptures and the statues. We have also finished painting the great wall.  The advantage of preparation in this period is that we can do without caring for the visitors.”

Although this is the closing period, the health guidelines for the controls of the virus are being performed and the details of the process are submitted to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture and we are preparing to be ready to open as soon as the permission from the national level committee of the preventing COVID-19 is passed. The members of the pagoda board of trustees are doing the daily chores of the pagoda during this period where there are no religious teams to do the chores.

U Win Tun, Chairman of Myittar Parami Volunteer Team from Shwedagon Pagoda, said, “We surely want to reopen the pagoda but we have to understand the situations which lead to still close the pagoda gates. As the pagoda is still closed, the volunteer teams cannot perform religious deeds. They will be able to perform the religious deeds only after the pagoda gates are opened. We have fully understood the situations as it is the pandemic period. Now some volunteers are going back to their home towns, so we need to reform our volunteer team when we get the approval to reopen the pagoda. We have been connecting with each other through online group. Our volunteer groups made the donations in Dayson Par pagoda in Bago on August 3. And we are planning to go to Shwegyin to be able to celebrate the Kathina robe offering ceremony in coming November, so we hope this pandemic will end at this time. We have established an online group named as Myittar Parami. We always make the discussions for every donation in our group. We want all of our people to follow the rules so that this pandemic will be largely under control soon”.

Normally, the religious ceremonies such as Buddha Pujaniya festival are always held at Shwedagon Pagoda. But now, these religious activities like praying with volunteer groups and meditation matters cannot be done during Covid-19 pandemic. So, there are some broadcast channels telecasting such religious matters in order to do the above religious deeds every day amid Covid-19 pandemic.

Zwe Mahn, Pyay Thein and Bo Bo Thein