Thousands mark Buddha's birthday at Myanmar's Shwedagon pagoda

Buddhist devotees gather to pour water at the foot of a banyan tree during the Full Moon day of "Kasone," known as Buddha's Birthday, at Botataung pagoda Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. - AP

YANGON (AFP): Thousands of Buddhist devotees gathered at Myanmar's Shwedagon pagoda on Wednesday to mark the Buddha's birthday and to water a sacred Bodhi tree believed to be linked to his enlightenment.

Crowds shuffled up a roofed stairway crammed with stalls selling flowers, candles and incense to reach the hilltop complex that dominates the skyline of commercial hub Yangon.

Reaching a giant marble platform dotted with smaller shrines, families split off and headed to different parts of the complex to make their offerings.

Towering over them was the main, gold-plated spire of the Shwedagon pagoda that rises 99 metres (325 feet) into the sky and is believed to house four relics of the Buddha.

Some took selfies against the backdrop, umbrellas in hand as early monsoon showers arrived in Myanmar following a record-breaking heatwave.

In one corner people lined up to water a sacred and gnarled Bodhi tree, believed to have been born from a sapling of the tree the Buddha achieved enlightenment under thousands of years ago in India.

"I woke up at 5 am to come and worship here," one woman told AFP, asking not to use her name.

"I only wish our family's finances will be better and all our work and ideas will be successful."

Myanmar has been mired in conflict since the military seized power in 2021.

Yangon is relatively peaceful but in swathes of the countryside ethnic minority armed groups and pro-democracy "People's Defence Forces" are battling the military.

Around 2.7 million people have been displaced by the conflict sparked by the military's toppling of the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the United Nations. - AFP

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Myanmar , Wesak Day , Big Gathering , Thousands , Prayers


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