Not only the dwellers from Twantay Township but also the people living in the neighborhood have come in flocks to pay homage to Shan traditional sand pagoda on the platform of historic Shwesandaw Pagoda, a pride of a certain township, since the dawn of the first day of Myanmar New Year following Myanma traditional cultural Thingyan.
The people living in Twantay Township are mostly Bama, Kayin and Shan. Twantay includes in South District of Yangon. It is about 22 miles distant from Hlaingthaya Tsp and about more than 17 miles distant from Dala Township. It is about 45 minutes’ drive from Dala. The pilgrims to Shwesandaw Pagoda can see those participating in building sand pagoda at Sunday corner of the pagoda platform, a tradition of Shan people, which is derived from Shan people of plain region. Shan people from Shan villages—Shansugyi, Nyaungdaga, Ngakhonmasan and Muelaman—have to get together and work together to build the sand pagoda. Shan people hold the sand pagoda festival at Sunday corner on the platform of Shwesandaw Pagoda on the first day of Myanmar New Year every year with the aim of preserving and valuing a cultural tradition of their Buddhism.
Apart from Shan people, the pilgrims from the neighborhoods perform good deeds carrying sand to the designated site of the sand pagoda. Different ages, monks, nuns and the people make very positive contributions to the work of carrying sand to build sand pagoda actively. Heads of Shan traditional committee patiently give patient explanations for how to hold the sand pagoda with the help of historical records.
Shan people residing in Shan villages have been holding their traditional sand pagoda festival on the platform of Shansandaw Pagoda built on Mayyuda Hill without fail on the first day of Myanmar New Year since their ancestor period. Now has turned the 448th anniversary. The traditional cultural history of Shan people who are living in plain region is related to historic Shansandaw Pagoda.
In 926 Myanmar Era, the upper structure of Shwesandaw Pagoda was damaged due to the earthquake. So as to renovate the earthquake-affected Shwesandaw Pagoda, King Bayintnaung of Hanthawady Dynasty fetched Shan people who were expert in ten kinds of traditional arts and crafts from Hanthwady Nay Pyi Taw and established Shan villages—Shansugyi, Nyaungdaga, Ngakhonmasan and Muelaman—outside the precincts of pagoda, according to page numbers 84 and 85 of New History of Twantay Shwesandaw Pagoda.
In 1330 Myanma Era, the pagoda made of sand was changed from Saturday corner to Sunday corner with the permission of the pagoda board of trustees. From that time onwards, four Shan villages had to assume responsibility for four main tasks—(1) pagoda precinct, lattice fence, flag poles (2) five-step of terrace bamboo coils and shaft to hold the umbrella of a pagoda (3) bell shape inverted lotus flower and spreading lotus flower and (4) umbrella, pennant-shaped vane and diamond bud. Each Shan village has to carry and send two pits of sand. The height of the sand pagoda varies according to different eras. The height of the sand pagoda was originally only 10 feet and nowadays it is 18 feet. Every Shan village had to stockpile sand during the days of Thingyan and send them to the precincts of Shwesandaw Pagoda in the mornings and evenings. Pots of flowers welcoming the New Year had to be sent to the sand of pagoda early morning. Shan traditional sand pagoda had to be built within day. At 5 am on the first day of Myanmar New Year, terrace bamboo coils of different sizes have to be filled with the donated sand sent by the respective Shan villages at Sunday corner on the platform of Shansandaw Pagoda. Shan villages convey plantain bud, pennant-shaped vane, diamond bud and umbrella to the sand pagoda to the accompaniment of Shan Ozis and traditional dances. At 9 am, 16 members of Sangha consecrated a Buddha image by reciting, prayed for the wellbeings of others, and shared merits gained and offered day meals and alms to the monks. The building of the sand pagoda on Shwesandaw Pagoda has now reached the 454th Anniversary on the first day of Myanmar New Year (13th Waxing of Tagu 1381 ME).
By Htut Htut (Twantay)