Thousands mark Buddhist festival of lights

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Thousands of Buddhist devotees thronged Myanmar’s Shwedagon Pagoda to mark the full moon of the Thadingyut festival on Sunday, some offering prayers for a country plunged into turmoil by last year’s coup.

The three-day festival marks Buddha’s descent from heaven and is normally marked by riotous fireworks displays, with candles and colorful lanterns lighting up streets and homes.

Early morning crowds lined up in commercial hub Yangon to pray at the towering, gold-plated Shwedagon pagoda, Myanmar’s most important Buddhist site. Local chronicles say it contains strands of the Buddha’s hair.

Crowds packed in shoulder-to-shoulder to file up escalators and ascend the pointed structure that dominates the skyline of the country’s largest city.

Inside the main complex crowds shuffled along in gentle circumambulation, some stopping to take selfies, light candles or burn incense.

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