The Shwedagon Pagoda is the most holy pagoda in all of Myanmar. A holy space of the Buddhist faith, followers of the faith and visitors alike come to share their thoughts, intentions, and wishes to a holier deity. One common practice of the Shwedagon Pagoda is to light a series of candles that border interior walls of the pagoda. This happens every evening, ceremoniously. The pagoda is made out of solid gold, and the candles beautifully reflect the golden patina. Faithful followers kneel softly on the concrete, gesturing towards the sky. They calmly breathe in the changing air, absorbing the scents of flames and wax. The flames brighten the dark evening sky.
Research has not pointed me to the roots of this tradition, however one can ruminate over what the potential meanings and significance may be. Buddhism centers peace as an instrumental part of faith. Candles, as they illuminate, facilitate an attitude of solitude and tranquility in a variety of settings. Buddhists and other guests of the holy space pray around the candles, channeling the peaceful energies produced and centering the candles as a representation of space. It’s a simple practice that doesn’t require too much analysis to understand. Maybe that’s the point: a simple practice, undefined.