An elderly Buddhist monk stops at a Peinnegone Church rectory to sip tea and chew betelnut leaf in the Ayeyarwady region of Myanmar.
The 60-year-old Buddhist monk travels over seven hours via a passenger boat from Labutta town to the Peinnegone to collect meals for other monks.
Pinnegone is a parish centre on the island located in Labutta township, almost five hours southeast of Yangon, the capital of Myanmar.
“When I collect meals for our monks, I visit Father Charles Yae Shan and take tea and betelnut at his house. We have no problem between us. We have been living in harmony with one another since a long time ago,” the monk says.
Betelnut is a heart-shaped leaf that is loaded with good health, and people can consume it, minus the tobacco, of course.
“When the Buddhist monks go around to collect food from the Buddhists’ houses in the village, they pay a short visit to me and eat betelnuts at my clergy house,” Father Charles Yae Shan told RVA News.
Earlier the priest would donate just money to the Buddhist monks. But as time went by, they became friends.
Father Yae Shan of Pathein diocese, said, “When there are celebrations such as Christmas, New Years of both, Buddhist and Christians in the village celebrate together without any conflict. The villagers are living in harmony.”
There are over sixty households of the Catholic faithful in Peinnegone village, where Buddhists are the majority.
Nant Pwar, one village elder, said, “People living in the village do not have political, social, and religious conflicts despite diverse beliefs and parties.”
Buddhists, Catholics, Baptists, and Seven Day Adventists live in the village.
Father Raymond Kyaw Aung, who visited Peinnegone, observed an interreligious dialogue between the villagers and religious leaders.
“I had a good conversation with the Buddhist monks who visit the clergy house. They were friendly towards me even though I was a guest priest and did not know how to converse with them,” said Father Kyaw Aung.
Father Kyaw Aung commented, “Living in harmony with people of different beliefs is preaching the good news of God to other people. It is our Christians’ witness too. The Catholic faithful in the village and the parish may not know about what interreligious dialogue is, but they are doing it in action.”
Peinnegone village comprises six hundred households and is one of the biggest villages with the Buddhist majority on the Islands in the Labuta Township.
The parish of Peinnegone was established in 2011. Father Charles Yae Shan is its second parish priest appointed in May 2020.
Most villagers are poor, and survivors from Nargis Cyclone hit on May 2, 2008. Karen people are the biggest population living in Peinnegone.
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