There are 5 most prominent pagodas and temples in Myanmar. Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Kaiktiyo Pagoda in Mon State, Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Yangon, Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan, Mahamuni Buddha Temple in Mandalay. All five places are sacred to the people of Myanmar for a long time. It also turned into a major tourist attraction and has been very popular. Every year, tourists from around the world visit these places and enjoy the beauty of them. The Mahamuni Buddha Image is the most respected Buddha image in the country and Buddhist tourists will need to worship once in a lifetime.
The Mahamuni Buddha Image; known as “Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image” in Burmese, at Mahamuni Buddha Temple; the original name is Payagyi, was located in Mandalay, Myanmar. The word “Mahamuni” means The Great Sage. The Mahamuni Buddha Image is seated on a throne in a divine posture known as Buddha’s vanquishing of Mara and was covered with a royal costume. Originally, The Mahamuni Buddha image was built in 554 BC at Dhanyawadi city of Arakan by King Sanda Thuriya. The image is cast in bronze, height of 12.7 ft. and weighs 6.5 tonnes. The image waist measures as 9 ft. but is increased to be 12 ft. because of the gold leaves are applied to the surface of the image by devotees.
According to the legend, before the Mahamuni Buddha Image was built, the Lord of Buddha appeared in King of Arakan’s dream. Refer to the dream, the Lord of Buddha visited the Arakan city and were greatly welcomed by the King of Arakan. Then, the king requested to the lord Buddha to leave an image of himself for the benefit of the people to pay homage to the Buddha. Then, the Buddha was pleased with the image and also stated that the image would last for five thousand years as his representative. Although, the image was too large to transport for the whole image, but it was cut into many sections and reassembled at the temple later. It was amazing that after they completed set up the whole image, no defection seen at all. So, it is believed that the Mahamuni Buddha Image is the Lord Buddha representative on earth and for the Buddhist people of Myanmar venerate it up to now, as the first and only true image of the Buddha.
Regarding to the power of faith and the belief that the Buddha image is alive, so they created the washing rituals ceremony which is performed for more than 1,000 years ago. The washing rituals is performed by a senior monk on a daily basis at 04:00 am in the morning. The senior monk will start with formal face wash by using the scented water mix together with Sandalwood powder and put it all in 3 bowls; golden bowl, silver bowl and normal bowl, using 3 times each. Then, the senior will cleaning teeth of Mahamuni image with a large golden brush which represent for cleaning teeth to the Lord Buddha. In every washing process, the senior monk will use the towel and Sandalwood powder which offering by the devotees. After the washing rituals is finished, the used towels are returned to the devotees and they keep the towels to worship at home. The senior monk will also use the golden royal long-handled fan which will be fanned to the golden image at least 1 hour in everyday. After they finished the washing process, the devotees can apply gold leaf to the image in order to pay respect to Mahamuni image. Thus, the devotees can buy the gold leaf which is around MMK 1,500.- from the vendor at the temple. That is the reason for the distorted shape of the image since the gold leaf applied made a thick layer of about 15 centimeters. So, when we touch the Buddha Image, we will feel that the image is so soft and also known as “The soft-Gold Buddha Image”
Everyday, there will be a lot of tourists and local devotees woke up early to join in the washing rituals ceremony. Only male devotees can join the washing ceremony, worship and apply the gold leaf to the Buddha image while other people including children and female devotees sit and worship in the rear and middle end of the hall.