There are monks and monasteries all over Myanmar.
Here is an old wooden monastery, Shwe Yaunghwe. The young monks are called novices. Every Buddhist boy is required to stay in the monastery for a minimum or three weeks in total. They often go as early as five years old. They may not stay for the entire three weeks at that time but them they go at another time to fulfill their obligation. Many stay much longer and some stay for life. Monks are held in high esteem in Burma.
Here the young novices are taking a written exam.
In the early morning in Pindaya monks from nearby (our hotel) monasteries, were making the rounds of middle class neighborhoods, alms bowls in hand. A small novice preceded the lines of 15 to 20 monks, banging on a gong to alert the townsfolk of the chance to earn merit by making donations, normally of cooked rice, a scoop into each monk’s black bowl. When we arrived at the location where we could hear the gong, there was an old woman sweeping the street. When asked why she was sweeping the street, she said, “The monks are coming and they are barefoot.”
This is Amarapura Monastery where we witnessed a thousand monks queuing for the last meal of the day. This is the pre‐eminent religious teaching institution in Burma.
A monastery cat was happy to pose.
This is Mahamuni Paya, the most sacred of Mandalay’s shrines, as here resides “the living Buddha,” a very large seated Buddha created during the life of the Buddha. Only men are allowed to got up to touch the Buddha. They apply gold leaf to the Buddha as seen here. The first photo is from afar where you can see many people praying and in the distance you can see the Buddha, which you can see more easily in the closeup photo below. Here men are applying gold leaf.
We visited Aung Myae Oo, a monastic school, which was in recess. I was taken by a few boys playing with these. Yes, they have made cars or trucks out of scraps and soda cans. Engineering and physics at work here.
More novices from the school.
Later, we boarded horse carts and visited the Yellow Brick Monastery (Maha Aungmye Bonzan Paya). A group of monks from Mandalay were also visiting. They wanted to pose with us and we with them.
The next stop was the old wood monastery of Bagaya Kyaung.
Monks at a monastery in Pyin Oo Lwin
A monk in Bagan.
This is an old wooden monastery, Yougson Kyaung. Fortunately we found a group of young novices who were very photogenic.
We then went, with these same young novices, to an abandoned white stucco monastery. They took turns jumping from one dormer to another.
We had brought several soccer balls for the novices and they were delighted to race after them.