Hindu Festival Celebrates Renovation of Pyin Oo Lwin Temple

Hindu devotees are sprinkled with holy water collected from in India during a festival to mark the renovation of the Hindu Ganesh temple in Pyin Oo Lwin. Click on the box below to see more photos. (Photo: Brennan Conner)

PYIN OO LWIN —In Pyin Oo Lwin, a former British hill station located on the western edge of the Shan Plateau, several thousand devotees gathered last week for a festival to mark the completion of a four-year-long renovation of the town’s Hindu Ganesh temple.

The festival called Shree Ma Harr Kubar Auisha Jum also celebrated the temple’s 105-year history in the Mandalay Division town, which in the late 19th to early 20th century served a resort for British colonial administrators looking for respite from the blistering heat in Burma.

The festival is only celebrated when a Ganesh temple is constructed, or in this case, expanded upon, and drew a huge crowd. Ganesh is the Hindu elephant head god of wisdom and learning, and the remover of obstacles.

Many of the town’s Hindu residents settled in the town (then called Maymo) after they were brought from India and other parts of Burma to work in colonial administrative positions, or as farmers growing vegetables favored by the English.

As many as seven Hindu temples are said to be located in Pyin Oo Lwin alone, and still more can be found in the surrounding villages.

Although the temple’s Burmese followers’ ancestries are in Tamil Nadu in southern India, the festival was also attended by Burmese Hindus who trace their heritage to other parts of India.

Devotees donated contributions for the lengthy and expensive renovations that included 369 stone deities from India.

Participant Myint Thein Gi Htun described the five-day event, which was presided over by several Hindu priests, some from as far away as Malaysia, as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The chemistry teacher, who could be seen every day greeting visitors near the entrance of the temple, said this is only second time that a Hindu event of this scale has happened in Burma.

On the final day, holy water collected from 108 sacred areas of India was sprinkled on followers gathered in the temple grounds. This was followed by a parade led by a decorated elephant trucked in from Mandalay who greeted devotees that lined the streets offering prayers, food and donations.

2 Responses to Hindu Festival Celebrates Renovation of Pyin Oo Lwin Temple

  1. Ganesha is the Hindu deity of success and wealth. To the common Burmese, Maha Pinney seems to be a more acceptable name, while in Thailand if one goes to Chiang Main, and visits Doi Suthep, one would understand Sudev or Thudewa in Burmese is another name of the deity. The lustration of the holy site was done by water of the Ganges or Mother Ganges, and interestingly, the Buddhists also shared smiles and celebration. Yes, we want a Burma where no racial discrimination is a threat, where one community will not rape another community’s woman and girls, so that racial turmoil destroys the peace. Yes with the renovation of the Maha Pinnay temple, let there be peace all across Burma and of course with the world at large.

  2. Thank you for those pictures of the Ganesha celebrations in Myanmar. My mother hailed from yangon and was born and raised there until the age of 25 when she arrived in Chennnai to get married to a Madras resident. I recollect the stories she narrated from the Myanmar of the last century, these pictures stimulate vivid memories of her story. May the Lord Ganesha shower Peace and prosperity to all citizens of Myanmar.
    arni narendran
    mumbai India

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