Sule Pagoda

Photo - Phyo Thiha

Sule Pagoda is one of the more significant pagodas in Myanmar and it is located as a major landmark in the downtown area of Yangon. It is surrounded by historical and religious buildings: the 82 year-old City Hall in the northeast; Maha Bandoola Park with the Independence Monument and the 107-year old Regional High Court Building in the southeast; and Sunni Jamah Bengali Mosque in the northwest.  

Marked as the centre of the city at a juncture of two main roads in downtown Yangon, where Maha Bandoola Street and Sule Road meet, the pagoda’s octagonal shape from the bottom to the shaft holding the Htidaw (umbrella) is unique compared to other well-known pagodas in Yangon.

It is understood that the octagonal shape allows worship from all directions of the compass. The bottom plinth of the pagoda was octagonal in shape in the past but is now circular.

Sule Pagoda is 151 feet high and surrounded by a 20-foot wide platform. In the past, there was a gateway to the pagoda at each of the four points of the compass. The boundary of the pagoda was once marked with an iron fence but now shops surround the pagoda as a boundary.  At the precinct of the pagoda, there is a new stone script explaining the emergence of the pagoda and it relates to the history of Shwedagon Pagoda.

There is also a well-known Bo tree and a shrine to the long-living Sule Bo Bo Gyi  (the Sule spirit). It is said Sule Bo Bo Gyi was one of the long-living nats , or spirits, who guided the decision for the Shwedagon Pagoda to be built at Singuttara Hill where it stands today. Myanmar people make devotional offerings to Sule Bo Bo Gyi and wish for success in business or overcoming difficulties. It is said that some wishes come true. The wish-makers offer robes, scarves, cash etc. to the nat. As the Sule Nat has been enshrined here for such a long time, today the nat is known as Sule Bo Bo Gyi together with the name of the pagoda.

Those who do business with a wish to Sule Bo Bo Gyi believe that they have to uphold themselves strictly to the Five Precepts of Buddhism. Though four nats are mentioned in connection with Sule Pagoda, Sule Bo Bo Gyi is worshiped by the most people with the belief that he assists with worldly affairs and obligations.

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Theingi Htun is a journalist who worked for two years at Yangon Times Journal and Flower News. She also worked for two years at Democracy Today News as Senior Journalist. She wrote many articles about culture, the travel sector and lifestyle stories too. Now she is working at My Magical Myanmar as a travel writer and social media executive."


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