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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

THE SHAKING PAGODA

The Shaking Pagoda
By: Harry Hpone Thant

A village with a curious name of "Hna Kyat Khwe" or in the Myanmar language 2 1/2 ticals village (a traditional Myanmar measure of weight), is where the Shaking Pagoda stand. Off the road on the Kyaukpadaung-Mt.Popa Highway is a small dirt track, where a sign says "4 miles to the Shaking Pagoda". The track meanders among clumps of toddy palm grooves and small villages before it arrives at the Hna Kyat Khwe village. It is a typical Myanmar Dry Zone village. Most are engaged in cultivation of dry zone cash crops like zyziphyus, sesame or ground nut. Or they gather the toddy juices and boil them to get the sweet round balls of jaggery.

When King Alaung Sithu of Bagan was on his tour he stopped at this village. The King wanted to have a pagoda built at this place and commanded that everybody in the army was to contribute one handful of clay and earth to the construction. Curiously, the weight of earth dug by each soldier weighed exactly 2 1/2 ticals each. And the village got its name.

However,due to unknown reasons the pagoda from its plinth up is not rigid. Put a cup of water on the plinth, lean a ladder onto the structure(the part resembling a banana bud), climb up the ladder and shake the pagoda. The bells on the hti or Holy Umbrella will ring audibly and the water in the cup will splash out.

When there was a big earthquake in Bagan in 1975, some outer mortar coverings of this pagoda fell off. The Presiding Abbot wanted to make repairs and sent up some workers to investigate. The workers found a hole in the structure and when they reached inside found a gooey substance that had not hardened despite the centuries after the construction. The inner core had remained soft.

However, the Archeological Department had now banned any sort of shaking the pagoda to prevent further damage.

The Presiding Abbot of the village monastery, where the pagoda is situated, will also show the huge tamarind tree which he says resembles an elephant paying homage to the pagoda.

Curiously enough, it is not the only pagoda with this curious characteristic. There is another near the town of Yenangyaung.

Devotees say it is the miraculous powers of the Celestial Beings that look after the pagoda made this pagoda special. Or maybe it is the unique characteristics of the soil of this area that makes it stay soft. But whatever the explanation it is a most unique phenomenon.

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