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Burmese Celebrate End of Lent

The Irrawaddy ...

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Millions of Burmese Buddhists celebrated the end of Lent on Tuesday, a national holiday when devotees donate food and money to monks at their local temples.

Banks, factories, schools and government offices were all closed on Tuesday, as were many restaurants and other small businesses. Buddhist devotees traditionally pay respect to elderly persons, their relatives and schoolteachers to mark the occasion.

In Thailand’s Mae Sot, many Burmese migrants attended ceremonies around the town. Others crossed the border at the Moei River by boat and headed to Myawaddy town to make donations at Burmese Buddhist temples.

Many Buddhists say the period of Lent is the most important time of the year, and believe that by showing respect to their parents and Buddhist monks, they will accumulate good luck for the year ahead.

Donations include tagging bank notes as leaves on a small artificial tree, rice, incense, candles, flowers, and other colorful or precious items.

After the conclusion of Lent, Buddhist monks are able to travel outside their temples whereas they invariably stay within their monastic grounds during the rainy season that marks Lent.

Many devotees, especially the elderly, practise meditation on this day, while younger folk head to the beach or parks. Many people visit popular landmarks such as Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon.