Pilikan – A Hindu Temple in Thanlyin in Myanmar

A Hindu Temple in Thanlyin in Myanmar


Built in the 19th century, this Tamil Hindu temple in Thanlyin across the Bago River from Yangon is unique in largely Buddhist Myanmar: this is a place where people from different religious backgrounds come to pray – in the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled. Fortune-teller ‘Yellow Mother’ is one of four inhabitants of Pilikan village who – in between lively spectacles of leaping cows and cow-catching – explain what the temple and its rituals mean to them.  

Director's Statement

I am from Thanlyin, the home of Pilikan temple. I was drawn to this Hindu temple because of the festivals that were completely unknown to me and began taking photos. Thousands of people celebrate here and to me it feels as if we are in India, right in the middle of Myanmar. I also think it is fascinating that people come to the temple from all over the country – no matter what religion or beliefs they have. I have never seen anything like it in Myanmar before and wanted to try to capture something of this unique atmosphere in my film. 

Director's Biography

Kaung Swan Thar was born in Thanlyin on the other side of the Bago river from Yangon in 1997. He took up studies in history at Yangon’s Eastern University in 2019 but his desire to use images to tell stories has since drawn him to photography and, in 2020, he started training in filmmaking at YFS. An alumnus of the Yangon Photo Festival, his 2017 photo-story ‘Underground Lives’ portrays the people who live underneath railway workers’ dwellings. Dala Boatbreakers (2021), his first film as a director, was honoured by being selected for the prestigious ethnographic film Festival Jean Rouch in Paris. He has since made two more documentaries, one about a punk musician who helps run a soup kitchen and the other Pilikan – A Hindu Temple in Thanlyin in Myanmar.

Director's Filmography

Pilikan – A Hindu Temple in Thanlyin in Myanmar