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Lamas pray for peace in monastery neighboring Beijing
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19:24, April 11, 2008

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Lamas in red cassocks chanted sutras in the Tibetan language, praying for peace for the whole nation, in Puning Monastery,230 kilometers from Beijing in Hebei Province on Friday morning.

"The violence in Tibet shocked me. I feel heartbroken for the people in cassocks who lost their better nature and carried out the unrest," said Meri Gentu, the deputy abbot of Puning Monastery, built in 1755 during the Qing Dynasty.

The grand monastery, which bears the name "worldwide peace", resounded with sublime chanting voices. Dozens of lamas crossed their legs, sitting face to face in the main hall, under the giant Buddha figures. A few citizens kowtowed and received blessing from the lamas during the chanting.

"We pray for the peace of the whole nation," said Tunglaga, 40,the chamberlain of the monastery, after the daily service.

The monastery, one of 12 temples built by Aisin-Gioro Hung Li, the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, around his Chengde summer resort. It stands as proof of ethnic solidarity between Tibetans, Mongolians and Hans, Tunglaga said.

At that time, there were eight temples of lamas, who received financial support from the Qing court. Puning Monastery, with the longest history, is currently the biggest lamasery in north China.

The monastery was build to enhance the solidarity of people from different ethics via religious belief as Tibetan Buddhism was widely popularized among Mongolians and Tibetans, he said. Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) once said to build a temple was much better than to establish a strong garrison.

Since then, the chanting voice of sutra has never stopped here.

Great buddhist events resumed from the 1980s on. About two big ceremonies and 40 small events are held annually, Tunglaga said.

Last July he witnessed the first arrival of the 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu.

Puning Monastery has a long history with the Panchen since the sixth Panchen Lama come here from Tibet to celebrate the emperor's birthday in 1780, he said.

The monastery began to invite buddhist dignitaries to hold buddhist ceremonies for local people in 2006. Two grand buddhist ceremonies have been held annually since then.

The tradition of free religious belief had been passed down while living conditions had been improving, Tunglaga said.

"Monks had always lived in the ancient bungalows since the Qing Dynasty before we moved into a two-floored building in 2004," he said.

The local government granted 10 million yuan (about 1.4 million U.S dollars) for the 80 lamas to build a well-equipped residential building, neighboring the 200-year-old monastery, said Wang Hui, deputy director of Chengde Municipal Ethnic and Religion Bureau.

"Life used to be inconvenient. We even had to go afar for a bath as we only had one public bathroom," Tunglaga said, sitting in his own apartment with a living room, a praying room and a private bathroom.

However, now, modern facilities, like air-conditioners and televisions, had been installed in the traditional style building, he said.

A 26-year-old lama named Bayartu bought a computer three years ago as he saved money from the government subsidies. The Internet had been offering a world as broad as the sutra to him, Bayartu said.

He started to type the sutra into the computer for better preservation and learning.

Better living conditions guarantees better learning, said Losang Shiqung, a 45-year-old Tibetan lama came from southwest China's Qinghai province following his teacher in 1989. Now he has become a teacher of the young monks.

"I've made progress on sutra studies during this time, " said Losang Shiqung in Chinese, who speaks fluent Tibetan, Mongolian and Chinese.

"Study will never stop until I become a Buddha, and praying for the victims will never stop until the violence cease," He said, counting Buddha beads, in the quite ancient building, half of which is Tibetan traditional building while the other half is in Qing Dynasty style.

Source: Xinhua

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