Minhlakyin village preserves bullock cart pilgrimage tradition

Minbu 5 sskm

Minhlakyin village in Minbu (Sagu) township is the sole village across the nation that preserves the traditions of residents to date in the use of bullock carts on their pilgrimage tour.
Although the residents from Minbu, Sagu, Pwintbyu, Salin and Ngaphe townships in Minbu district used the bullock carts to make the pilgrimage tour to Mann Shwesettaw Pagoda previously, only Minhlakyin village used the bullock carts nowadays to preserve the traditions, according to the locals.
Locals from Minhlakyin village make pilgrimage tours to Mann Shwesettaw Pagoda using bullock carts every year, and they made a tour with the use of 37 bullock carts on 21 March this year.
The pagoda festival is being held for 64 days, from the 5th waxing of Tabodwe to the first day of the Myanmar New Year. The festival is crowded with visitors from different regions and states, for being the most well-known pagoda. It holds the longest festival in Myanmar, according to the pagoda board of trustees.
Minhlakyin village is about over 20 miles from Minbu (Sagu) and only 13 miles from Mann Shwesettaw Pagoda. The residents mainly operate farming traditionally. They used to run hand weaving (garment), bamboo slicing for thatch and bamboo matting (for walls). Currently, they mainly do farming, and the number of people who make handicrafts is falling gradually.
Minhlakyin villagers made a pilgrimage tour to Mann Shwesettaw Pagoda using bullock carts, and they suspended the pilgrimage tour during the COVID-19 pandemic. They resumed their tour with about 20 bullock carts in 2023. Before the pilgrimage tour, they check the carts to save food, utensils, and cow feed.
Then, the leader and men prepared tents near Mann Creek in advance. Except for older persons and those who do not have bullock carts, all the villagers make pilgrimage tours by carts or by bus yearly.
Minhlakyin village is famous for its tradition of using bullock carts. Therefore, the photographers and pedestrians take photos and make movies and documentaries during the festival.
This year, those taking records donated K150,000 for 37 bullock carts and K500,000 by a well-wisher for preserving Myanmar’s traditional culture to the leader of bullock carts and locals.
Villagers make pilgrimage tours to Mann Shwesettaw pagoda from the 13th waxing to the 4th waning of Tabaung and return on the 1st waning of Tabaung. They build camps near their bullock carts by Mann Creek for four days and five nights.
Before doing good deeds in the early morning, they clean their cows and take batches in Mann Creek in groups. Then, they visit two sacred footprints of the Lord Buddha daily. At the pagoda, they offer alms to monks, donate gold foils to the pagoda and do other good deeds, and they recreate by swimming in Mann Creek to get relief from the tiredness that they receive by farming the whole year round.
Older people of Minhlakyin village preserve and hand over their tradition of using bullock carts for pilgrimage tours to the youths, and they all will be practising those actions in the coming years. Although villagers faced hardships in transport during the rainy season, the government built the Bailey bridge and paved an earthen road at the entrance to the village so that there would be proper transport. The village lacks access to electricity, and villagers want the government to provide electricity to the village, according to locals.
The author visited Minhlakyin village to write this article, honouring their tradition of bullock cart pilgrimage tours. — Maung Maung (Minbu)/KTZH

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