Thousands donate hair to fix pagoda road in remote Burma

The Telegraph,, June 22, 2009

Thousands of Burmese have donated 1,750 pounds of their hair in a campaign to repair the route to a sacred Buddhist pagoda, reports said on Sunday

Mandalay, Burma -- About 30,000 women and more than 100 men from the central city of Mandalay and nearby towns have donated the hair, Kumudra magazine quoted a Buddhist monk as saying.

Some of the locks measured 4 feet in length, said Shin Wayama Nanda, the chief abbot of Mandalay's Naga monastery.

Monks overseeing the upkeep of the remote Alaungdaw Kathapha pagoda will use proceeds from the sale of hair to repair sections of a road and build bridges leading to the popular pilgrimage site, which is said to contain the remains of one of Buddha's disciples.

The hair will be used in wigs or dolls, or it can be sold to traders from China for similar purposes.

The campaign has spread to Yangon, the largest city in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, Popular magazine reported.

Access to the pagoda in the country's northwest is difficult. Some sections of the route can be reached only by foot or on elephant.

"With the money acquired from the sale of hair, sections of the 25-kilometer (15-mile) road (will be repaired) and 15 small and medium-length bridges will be built," Shin Wayama Nanda said.

One span will be called the "Shwe Hsan Nwe bridge," or "Bridge of Golden Tresses".