Everybody knows that Myanmar is the golden land of temples and pagodas as Buddhism is the dominant religion here. The land surely hosts many religious festivals to commemorate the significance of the holy Buddha and show the mankind respect to him. Among the most exclusive festivals in Myanmar, Buddha Teeth Brushing and Face Washing Ceremony in Mandalay is highly preferred today.
Brush Buddha’s Teeth and Wash His Face Just in Mandalay
The teeth brushing and face washing for the Buddha in the early morning is a local custom in Mandalay. Notice that it is for the local, but not for the tourists! So, if you feel interested in such exclusive ceremony, please wake up and get yourself prepared at 3:30 AM to witness how the local respectfully cares for the Buddha in Maha Muni Pagoda.
There are about a dozen of people gathering in front of the pagoda; its opening time is about 4:45 AM. Join the queue and you will enter the door of the Maha Muni Pagoda in the respectful manner. Here, you find a large group of Buddhists that comes from the other Asia countries. Of course, the Western tourists are always welcomed to witness the holy ceremony.
In the first time you see the Buddha statues in the Maha Muni Pagoda, you will be amazed at its brilliant beauty made from many gold leaves rubbed on them. So, when the doors open, you and any other participant can contemplate the holy Buddha. Pay your tray of offerings on a bench and sit down (behind the tray) on the floor. Please sit cross-legged in minutes during the ceremony! After that, do what the experienced visitors do. You should open the packets of food on the trays, peel the top half of a banana as well as an orange, and manage to arrange all of the food in a fine pattern.
The formal ritual is performed by the head monk and many other lay helpers (who are distinguishable with the white robes). It is the short ceremony: first, lots of ornate containers and platters are put in front of the Buddha. The head monk will show these items to the Buddha (one by one) to get them blessed. He continues wrapping a large gold cloth around the neck and shoulder of the Buddha, and also climbs on a platform to reach the Buddha’s face smoothly.
A big urn of cooked rice is passed to the monk from the lay helper. He then uses it to scrub the Buddha’s teeth with the cooked rice. In fact, we all know that the statue doesn’t open his mouth, so just think that the monk just scrubs the Buddha’s lips. This activity is repeated in 10 minutes with the addition of rice. When it comes to the ceremony of face washing, the monk wets the Buddha’s face with a spray of water from a golden container. The holy face is washed over and over again with a cloth. This is done in the rhythmic movement of arms. Then, the Buddha’s face is dried with a series of towels in the similar rhythmic patterns. The drying step is completed by using a golden fan to wave.
The repeated rhythm of the ceremony eases the participants’ mind in the relaxing way. While viewing, you get the expected peace of mind indeed. Then, you can stand up (remember to do what the local does!) and obtain the best view that is perhaps the right-hand side of the Buddha. The glittering gold leaf is surely eye-catching. Besides, the soaring gold arches of the hallways are admirable. There stand some intricate patterns of the ancient Angkor sculptures here. Plus, look at the notable row of large bells here.
In a word, the Buddha teeth brushing and face washing ritual is unique and fantastic enough for you to get up early to be a participant. So, if you are in Mandalay Tour, do remember to join the ceremony at least once in a lifetime. The blessed cloth is then taken by the Buddhist pilgrims as the greatest souvenir ever.