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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mon contractor building Shwedagon replica in Hat Yai as a symbol of unity

Shwedagon Pagoda

A SELF-MADE Myanmar contractor is funding the construction of a replica of Myanmar's Shwedagon Pagoda in Wat Khlong Hae in Songkhla's Hat Yai district, as a symbol of unity for fellow nationals and in honour of His Majesty the King.

 This could be the largest replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Thailand, as it will stand nearly 15 metres high and be nearly 21m wide, while the top section will be over 3m tall.

The replica, which is over 70 per cent complete, should be ready by late next month, though the surrounding area is expected to take two years before it is ready to be handed over to Wat Khlong Hae for care.

Ching Ko, a 45-year-old ethnic Mon, started off as a day construction worker 18 years ago and built himself up to become a well-known contractor in Songkhla province over the past decade. Apart from his interest in merit making and meditation, his decision to build the replica was further inspired by the rising number of Myanmar migrants in Thailand. He said the replica would serve as a spiritually unifying edifice for Myanmar people in Songkhla and nearby areas.

Ko and fellow Myanmar people from seven ethnic groups living in Songkhla and other provinces raised Bt10 million for the construction, he said, adding that working on this project had brought compatriots together and turned them into friends.

He explained that the pagoda was also meant as an expression of gratitude towards Thailand and His Majesty for allowing Myanmar people to make a living here so they can support their families back home.

"I chose to build a replica of the Shwedagon because nearly everybody, including Thais, go there to worship. With a replica here in Hat Yai, people won't have to travel all the way to Myanmar to admire the landmark," he said.

Phra Kru Wapitham-udom, the abbot of Wat Khlong Hae, said the temple had considered building a pagoda since 2008, but there had been too many obstacles to see it through. Then Ko approached the abbot asking for permission to build the replica pagoda, so people, especially Myanmar migrants who cannot return home every year, can pay their respects.

This temple is also part of the Culture Ministry's Chalermraja Cultural Centre's project, launched three years ago to mark His Majesty's 84th birthday. The project involves establishing 10 temples nationwide to serve as centres for local wisdom and heritage as well as for promoting cultural exchange, the abbot said. The pagoda could also help promote the area's culture and tourism in addition to the already existing Wat Khlong Hae Floating Market, he said.

Sourse: The Nation

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