September 21, 2015
no discussion of Buddhism or religion in Myanmar would be complete without a mention of the nats. it's something else that is singular to the country, although the manifestation of evil spirits is common to all religions. there's a specific list of nats like there are saints. usually a nat is a human that has met a violent death and they are worshiped in much the way a saint would be venerated.
ask a national about the nats and you'll get something similar to a 'ghost story' with the same passion and creepiness that goes along with the western tradition.
mt. popa is the largest of the shrine sites and hosts a festival on the full moon in December. i did not visit mt. popa ... it's a day trip from Bagan because the other travelers i knew were a bit disappointed with the experience. it is more actively practiced in the rural than the urban areas but they are everywhere and i saw the box below on a tree along the river in Yangon. there is also an easy to find and quite impressive Nat Shrine in Hsipaw, to the north.