When arriving at Pathein Port, it seems to be hearing the song ‘My Dear Ma Ma Pathein Thu’. Remembering the visit of Mawtinsun Pagoda by boat from Pathein over thirty years ago, several large and small ships along the Pathein Port and Pathein River were seen with flags onboard and the rumbling sounds of loudspeakers from these ships were heard. Indeed, there were fun and happiness.
The song My Dear Ma Ma Pathein Thu is repeatedly played along the Pathein River. That is a symbol of the Mawtinsun Pagoda festival. It can never be an outmoded scene. Every year, the pagoda festival period is from the first waxing day of Taboung to the fullmoon day of Taboung. Now, it can be reached not only by waterway but by road.
Mawtinsun Pagoda is located 96 miles off the motorway from Pathein Township at the Cape of Negrais (Mawtin Point) in the south-westernmost mountain ranges in Ngaputaw Township of Pathein District in Ayeyawady Region.
Riding on the motorway, travellers can see the mountainous territory on the eastern side of beautiful western mountain ranges, natural forest areas, pleasing beauty of livelihoods of Ayeyawady Region, farmlands, rubber plantations and croplands and teak forests along both left and right sides of the winding road. They all looked like colourful paintings. Crossing over the Pathein Cable Bridge and Pathein No. 2 Bridge in downtown Pathein, travellers will get to a crossroad to Chaungtha Beach soon. When reaching the Seintaung crossroad, another crossroad to Ngwesaung can be seen. Then, the road to the southernmost is heading towards glorious Mawtinsun Pagoda with 18 wonders.
Mawtinsun Pagoda is one of the most attractive religious places for Myanmar people. It is a pagoda that is usually visited not only by local pilgrims but also by international tourists. It is a special opportunity for pilgrims who want to experience the added spectacular view of both the Bay of Bengal and the reefs in its vicinity.
The annual pagoda festival is held with crowded people. The festival lasts from the first waxing day of Taboung to the fullmoon day of Taboung. Series of traditional makeshift guest huts, which are built of bamboo, wood and thatch, are appeared temporarily. Plenty of bathing facilities is also built up on the beach.
A long queue of stalls can be seen and vendors are selling various kinds of local-made shell beads, shell necklaces, shell curtains, shell hats and shell vases in addition to local foods. Visitors can enjoy sea baths at Ngwetaung not far from Mawtinsun. They can wear palm-leaf hats and have coconut sap as well.
There are also some fun sports. When looking at the Mawtinsun Pagoda from the beachside the Mawtinsun Point can be seen obviously reaching to the sea as it is located at the cape of the southwest tip of the Myanmar map.
The tip is called Mawtinsun or Negrais Mountain or Tharaka Mountain or Niraban Mountain. In 103 Maha Era, two merchant brothers namely Tapussa and Bhalika of Okkalapa received the eight Buddha’s hairs during the Buddha era. While returning to their home by sea route they passed the Negrais Cape belonging to Dragon King Zayyathena. The Dragon King took two of the Buddha’s hairs and built the pagoda, which is originally a small stupa, at the top of Mawtin mountain and it was called Maha Makutaranthi.
Then King Thiri Dhamma Soka renovated the pagoda. In 236 Sasana Era, by using the power of Ashin Maha Moggaliputtata tissa and Ashin Uttara, the pagoda was renovated by the king, queen and servants. In 457 Sasana Era, King Alaungsithu saw the radiance emanated from the pagoda at the top of the mountain while he was visiting overseas. So he stopped his royal raft and paid homage to the pagoda. He built one stupa at the place his royal raft was berthing. He named it PhaungtawOo Stupa on the reef of the beach at the foot of the Mawtinsun Pagoda.
After Mawtinsun Pagoda, pilgrims can pay homage to the Ngwetaung Pagoda. Ngwetaung is also a sea beach for Mawtinsun pilgrims to enjoy sea bathing. The beach where Mawtinsun Pagoda is located and the pagoda festival is held is submerged all year round. The beach appears during the festival period when stalls and stages can be built. Visitors and their cars can travel on the beach as well. The beach would be submerged again once the festival winds up after the 1st waxing day of Taboung.
The Mawtinsun Pagoda festival is held now. Visitors can experience and enjoy various pleasant scenery to explore the environment. Pilgrims can go there by waterway from Yangon to Pathein and thereby to Mawtinsun-Khamaukmaw. They can use the motorway from Yangon to Pathein. They can choose any route – waterway or motorway – to the Mawtinsun Pagoda. When arriving in Pathein, the capital of Ayeyawady Region, from all over Myanmar, travellers can pay homage to the Shwemokhtaw Pagoda, YegyiOo Pagoda, Tagaung Pagoda, Footprints Pagoda and other pagodas.
In addition, they can see and learn a three series of lakes, pleasant Pathein Port and Pathein No. 2 Bridge. Apart from the Mawtinsun Pagoda, pilgrims can visit Chaungtha, Ngwesaung, Ngwesaung Elephant Camp, and then proceed to the Goyangyi Island that is situated at South Ngayokekaung Village along the Mawtin Road.
From the Mawtinsun Pagoda Road, visitors can go to Hainggyikyun town through Kanchaing and Khamaukmaw villages by crossing the Hainggyi Island Bridge. There are many interesting sightseeing places on Hainggyi Island where they can see the execution site of foreign invaders during the reign of King Alaungphaya. Travellers can go to Tortoise Island which can be seen very small from far in the sea. They can tour the Kyauk Klap (rock club). When travelling by boat, they can see the fleet of dolphins happy in the water near confluence.
Visitors can explore the beauty and nature of coastal villages as well as their different types of works. The author wrote this article to welcome the Mawtinsun Pagoda festival that will be held from 2 March to 16 March for 15 days and would like to invite all to pay homage to the Mawtinsun Pagoda and enjoy the pagoda festival.