To the first blog on post on my newly redesigned website. If you take a second to look around, you’ll see that my portfolios, blog and archive are now integrated into one easy to use webspace. You should find that the images are a little bit bigger, and starting from this post forward, all images featured on my blog are clickable directly through to a page where prints, products and downloads are available. And of course any image or gallery in the archive is also availible. Finally, you’ll find share and bookmark buttons for all your favorite social media sites just about everywhere. If you like what you see, please don’t be afraid to use them.
Proceeding on to the good stuff. These images come from a few days visiting a handful of different monasteries around Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. Buddhism is very prevalent in Burma, and I was quite keen to photograph its monks and monasteries, but during my first few days visiting a friend there, access wasn’t exactly proving easy… until it sort of just fell into my lap. While checking out the biggest pagoda in the city, just about on my way out, a monk approached me with a friendly hello. I always reply back, which was his cue to unload a barrage of introductory questions. His English was pretty good, and he was cool, so we sat down to chat for a few. Not too long after, he invited me to his monastery, and said he would take me to visit some other Buddhist places around the city. What? A free tour guide with credentials? Perfect! We set it up for the day after next I think. We had a great time out that day, and I even met him once more before I left for another few trips. Below are a few of the images I found exploring the Buddhist monasteries of Yangon. There are many more in this archived gallery as well.
While the rest of his congregation finishes lunch, a young monk is tasked with the laundry.
In a small, single house monastery, an elder focuses on his studies. The vast majority of a monk’s life is spent in the devotion of learning.
Everyday in the early morning hours, all monks venture out into the city to collect alms, typically in the form of food. Most journey the same routes and receive donations from the same people daily.
Upon returning, the food they collect each morning provides them with their second and final meal of the day, taken about 10:30am.
Following the late morning lunch, most have some free time before continuing studies in the afternoon.
This monastery, reaching its capacity, overflowed to an adjacent, unfinished concrete structure, where the younger monks reside and take lessons.
In an empty room in a large monastery, a young novice repairs the mat on which he sleeps.
Most of a devotee’s day is spent in the embrace of books and study, though they do seem to also enjoy catching up on the news as well.
Pictured on the left is Indavonsha, who was my guide through these monastic scenes. I met him by chance when he approached me at Shwedagon, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in the country (photos coming soon). Just as I was leaving, he wanted to practice his English, and I obliged. Several minutes later, we were working on plans for him to take me around to visit his, and several other monasteries, which is exactly what we did over several days. He was great, and gave me access to otherwise fairly hard to get captures.
“Bogi”, who shares a small monastery with my new friend, enjoys a cigarette on a short study break. Throughout my visits, I found that things such as TV, phones and smoking, were not as forbidden as I had once envisioned.
Several youngsters gather in a large sleeping room during their break time, between early lunch and afternoon studies.
This novice was one of the last to finish his mathematics exam. In addition to Buddhist teachings, young monks also receive instruction in most general subjects.
And finally, two more portraits of young lives on the path of Buddha.