Even on an overcast day, the glint and glare around the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon can be overwhelming. If you’re not used to the light, it can, at first, be hard to stop squinting. Ordinarily the area surrounding the Pagoda is filled with merit-makers and tourists, and people sitting in prayer. It is a sprawling complex with associated religious sites nestled across its grounds.
As Yangon’s most famous landmark, and the nation’s best-known religious site, it has always been an obvious choice for important prayer vigils. During political turbulence in 1936, 1946 and 1988, it was also the site of landmark political protests.
There is now sporadic reporting that protests against the military regime – which, over the past three weeks, have developed in to a petition campaign – have moved forward. The International Herald Tribune and the Bangkok Post both provide more context on the small prayer vigil that has been held at the Shwedagon. A nation-wide week of prayer and reflection has been called by pro-democracy groups. It may soon spread beyond the capital.
Within the next few days, I imagine there may be a great deal of international reporting on this movement. New Mandala will be following developments closely.