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President U Htin Kyaw, First Lady, attend holy ceremony, provide offerings to 18,000 monks January 1, 2018 The Union government of Myanmar held a ceremony to consecrate the Shwedagon Pagoda in Buddhist Era 2561, along with 18,000 members of the Sangha (Buddhist monks), and offer provisions to the monks at the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon yesterday. The ceremony began at 6:30 a.m. at the Shwedagon Pagoda, and it was attended by President U Htin Kyaw and First Lady Daw Su Su Lwin. The ceremony was formally opened by Sayadaw Dr. Bhaddanta Dr. Eiddhi Bala, Yangon Region Sangha Nayaka Committee Chairman; President U Htin Kyaw; Union ministers Dr. Pe Myint, Thura U Aung Ko, U Ohn Win, U Thein Swe and Dr. Than Myint; U Phyo Min Thein, Yangon Region Chief Minister; and Yangon Command Commander Maj-Gen. Thet Pone by cutting the ceremonial ribbon and pressing a button. The second part of the ceremony was then held on “Victory Land” in the northwest section of the Shwedagon Pagoda platform, where the congregation received the Nine Precepts from Bhamo Sayadaw Dr. Bhaddanta Kumara Bhivamsa, Chairman of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, followed by the recitation of parittas by the members of the Sangha. Next, the President and wife, union ministers, chief ministers of states and regions and Yangon Command Commander presented offerings to 45 revered monks led by the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee Chairman and Sitagu Sayadaw. Later, the President donated Ks1 million to Shwedagon Pagoda, while donors contributed gold, silver and cash. This was followed by an explanation by Thura U Aung Ko, Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture, about religious matters. Next, the Sitagu Sayadaw Dr. Bhaddanta Nannisara delivered a sermon to the congregation, and the attendees shared merits gained from the donation. Afterwards, the 18,000 monks, led by the Chairman of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, including senior monks from foreign countries, recited the consecration verses. The ceremony concluded with the three-time recitation of “Buddha Sasanan Ciran Tittahtu”, (May the Sasana endure forever). The President, his wife and other attendees then offered meals to the 18,000 members of the Sangha. In the afternoon, a ceremony to offer rice to the 18,000 monks was held at the four entrances of the pagoda. Union Ministers, Yangon Region ministers and donors offered rice and other provisions to 18,000 monks.