Alaungdaw Kathapa in Sagaing Region is closed about one month earlier, said Hti Maung, member of Alaungdaw Kathapa Pagoda Trustee Board.
“The instruction from the regional government and district authorities was released on March 18. The leading monks told us to close the pagoda festival on March 19. We issued handouts to announce the closure of the pagoda festival since March 19. The Alaungdaw Kathapa will be closed from March 22. We told the pilgrims to return by March 22 at the latest. The Alaungdaw Kathapa usually closed around April 25 in previous years,” said Hti Maung.
The number of pilgrims declined this year and the Alaungdaw Kathapa Pagoda Trustee Board decided to close the pagoda festival due to the instruction of the union government.
“I am now at the Alaungdaw Kathapa and we are approaching the base of the mountain. I saw about 20 cars today. The business is not good as there are a little number of pilgrims came this year. When I asked the authorities, the festival will be closed officially on March 22. The pilgrims left their cars at the Alaungdaw Kathapa car parking and visited the Alaungdaw Kathapa Pagoda riding on trucks,” said Aung Than Htay, a truck driver.
The pilgrimage trip to Alaungdaw Kathapa is opened in open season and closed after Thingyan. More pilgrims are visited the Alaungdaw Kathapa on Saturdays, Sundays, full moon days and days of religious significance.
There are more than 80 sellers at the Alaungdaw Kathapa and the pagoda trustee board gave time for them to return.
“Now the authorities are making an iron gate to close the road leading to the Alaungdaw Kathapa,” said Aung Than Htay.