Thursday, March 3, 2016

Weird And a Bit Creepy. The Snake Pagoda.


While Kawgun Cave was the highlight of my trip to Myanmar, this place was one of the low lights.  I was not looking forward to the visit but off the beaten path sightseeing in Myanmar continued!
 

Officially called Yadana Labamuni Hsu-taungpye Paya, this Myanmar pagoda is generally known as Hmwe Paya, or the “Snake Pagoda”.  We arrived here around 4p and when Spring first told us we would be coming to the Snake Pagoda, I had imagined a place swarming with snakes.  Perhaps it's because I'm not a fan of snakes that I don't understand worshipping them.  More over, it's not just any kind of snake - it's a Burmese python, one of the five largest species of snakes in the world.  An adult snake could probably strangle me to death!!  And, it's not just one python, it's several!  Yikes!

We made our way towards a very small building.  Shoes off and then we entered into a very small room.  I swear we were not inside for more than 15 seconds before a literal swarm of people came in.  Where the heck did they come from?



They obviously knew where to go and crowded us out.  I was in no rush to see anything slithery so I was more than happy to step aside for them.

The noise level went from just a few decibels to a lot of shouting.  I've never seen or heard people so excited to see a snake.  Seriously.



The Snake Pagoda was  founded in 1974 when a Buddhist monk, who was tending the pagoda found two large pythons wrapped around a statue of Buddha. The monk dutifully carried the snakes out to the jungle and returned to clean the pagoda. Within a day the snakes were back, and a third had joined. Each time, the monks would carry the snakes out to the jungle, and each time they would return. Eventually the monks came to see the snakes as holy, possibly the reincarnated souls of monks who used to tend to the pagoda. The monks stopped removing the snakes and instead began taking care of them.


The monks take such good care of the snakes that you can't blame them for not wanting to leave the place.  Apparently, the pythons are milk and several eggs every five days as well as a small amount of goat meat. Every morning at 11:00 a.m., the snakes are lovingly washed by the monks in a bath filled with flower petals. They are sometimes even dried with money left as an offering at the pagoda.


Though the original pythons have died, new snakes have since been donated by faithful followers. The original snakes can still be seen in the pagoda, albeit in a taxidermied state. Considering the level of care the snakes receive, the snakes no doubt lived a long and happy life.

Once the crowd left, we approached the one snake that was on display.  Thankfully, it wasn't moving!


That's its head; you can see the eye. 

All in all, I was befuddled by this place. Each year, thousands of the faithful make a pilgrimage to the temple.  I don't know what they see in the snakes but I guess everyone needs to believe in something. I'm crossing this place off my bucket list....not that it was ever on it but I don't need to come back.