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Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.
00:33 • in the streets fo Yangon
02:06 • the white elephants
Yangon or Rangoon
Although the former capital of Burma, renamed Myanmar, is a city of almost 5 million people, it never feels oppressive like many big cities. Relatively fluid traffic and people who take the time to live. The new capital, easier to secure for the junta which was in power (and which put the cover back in 2021 ...) is Naypyidaw, in the region of Mandalay.
Rangoon was the capital of British Burma and remained so after independence until the relocation of state services in 2005. Its new name, Yangon, means "end of discord" ... if only it could be verified in the facts. But without a doubt, this country will eventually emerge from the regime of military dictatorship.
in the streets
Life on the streets is calm and peaceful. Rice cake vendors, monks strolling between the stalls, flower merchants, houses and administrative buildings that look like small pagodas.
Of course, there is the awe-inspiring as well as magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, but this one is the subject of another film in this series.
Objects of great veneration on the part of the faithful Burmese Buddhists, some elephants described as "white" are chained on a podium in a place sinister for them and sacred to men.
With our western eyes untrained to the mysteries of Burmese Buddhism, it is hard to find white elephants in this place. We can see elephants, one of them is slightly pink ... It is because we are not initiated ... An elephant does not need to be white from head to toe to deserve the supreme honor reserved for sacred elephants. The priests have drawn up a list of criteria that animals must meet to be considered "white". A few light spots may suffice, as long as they are well located. But the fact of being sacred does not necessarily guarantee them a more pleasant life than that of their congeners ...
about the place, Yangon:
Yangon: Also known as Rangoon, the city was the administrative capital of the country until 2006, when a brand new city was built to house state services (Naypyidaw) in the north of the country.
Yangon is the most populous city in the country and is home to, among other things, the large pagoda covered with gold, the Shwedagon.
The city has more than 5.5 million inhabitants.
Spoken comments in the film:
Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is no longer the capital of Myanmar since fifteen years. However, it remains the most important city and one of the liveliest. It also has the privilege of welcoming 3 of the 9 white elephants, sacred elephants of Burmese Buddhism.
In Myanmar, white elephants are sacred. In 2016, during our trip there were 9 in the country, including 3 in Yangon.
When a Westerner hears "white elephant" he imagines a white elephant, but in Myanmar things are more nuanced.
The priests established a list of criteria that an elephant must meet in order to be entitled to the supreme honor, that of being chained but also of being considered a white elephant, and therefore a sacred elephant.
A few well-located spots may suffice ...
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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of burmese traditional music in "Yangon, a walk in the city • Myanmar", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.