Pagodas and What They Mean to Buddhists
Khin Myo Chit
Pagodas: Romance and Legend
It all began, long before I was old enough to understand that stupas and pagodas symbolize the great wisdom and compassion of the Buddha to whom we owe our way of life, our philosophy, our culture and above all, our fortitude that helps us to survive all trials that life has to offer.
My earliest memories are of the green wooded hills rising out of the wide flowing river Ayeyawady. On every hill top I saw one lone pagoda or a group of threes and fours, some gilded, others whitewashed and gleaming. Since I had many opportunities to make trips up and down the river, pagodas on hill tops remain one of my happiest recollections of childhood.
Of the first things I learned about pagodas nothing had to do with the intellectual side of Buddhism but all was full of colour and romance. Once, while we were crossing the river from Mandalay to Sagaing in a small flat-bottomed boat (it was long before the beautiful Inwa bridge was built) we headed towards the long dark range of thickly wooded hills, crested with shining pagodas, and the tinkling bells from their htis as the fretted wrought iron spires on top of the pagodas are called, chimed welcome to us. Colonnaded stair-ways zig-zagged through the flowering foliages. They looked so inviting that I could hardly wait to run up the steps and reach the pagodas up there.