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Posted by Travel Wire Asia on February 22, 2012 in Email Newsletter, The Diary

VAST crowds are gathering at Burma’s most sacred Buddhist shrine to celebrate a festival banned for decades under the former military government.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma. Pic: AP.

The festival at the gold-plated, diamond-studded Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is a mix of Buddhist ritual and traditional fun and games. The fact that it is taking place at all this year is the latest sign of new freedoms trickling into this long-repressed country.

The former junta feared large groups gathering in the streets, even when they were not demonstrating. But those fears are apparently not shared by the new, nominally civilian government.

On Wednesday, the sprawling temple compound is hosting a festival to mark the 2,600-year anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment, opening with saffron-robed monks beginning a 15-day chant and a visit by government officials.
Associated Press

Tags: Burma travel, Myanmar travel, Shwedagon Temple
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