Myanmar's military capital gets new pagoda
In a ceremony presided over by Myanmar's military supremo Senior General Than Shwe and attended by the junta hierarchy, a new pagoda for the capital of Naypyitaw was inaugurated this weekend, media reports said Sunday.
Than Shwe and his wife Kyaing Kyaing presided over the hoisting of the umbrella on top of the Uppatasanti Pagoda on Saturday in Naypyitaw, Myanmar's capital since 2004 that is situated about about 350 kilometres north of Yangon, the former capital, dpa reported.
The couple also donated a Buddha tooth relic, provided by China, to be placed inside the pagoda, the first to be opened in Naypyitaw since it became the country's new capital, The New Light of Myanmar reported.
A pagoda is not complete until the nine-tier umbrella is hoistyed on its top, in olden days a task reserved for Burmese kings.
Attending the ceremony were 583 Buddhist monks, the junta's second most powerful man Army Commander-in-Chief Vice-Senior General Maung Aye and other members of the military and government hierarchy including Defence Minister General Thura Shwe Mann, Prime Minister General Thein Sein and others.
The attending generals all provided gifts to the new pagoda and attending Buddhist monks, making merit for the entire junta.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962 when General Ne Win seized power from the country's first post-independence elected prime minister U Nu.
Although Ne Win launched the country along its disastrous "Burmese Road to Socialism," he kept Buddhism as the state religion.
Ne Win, a strong believer in numerology and astrology, built his own pagoda in Yangon, previously called Rangoon, across from the famed Shwedagon Pagoda.