|Tu Huan's Tibetan-style bar at Wudaoying Hutong.|
The only thing more trendy than moving away from religion is moving towards it, said 29-year-old Liu Wen, a white-collar worker in Beijing who practices Tibetan Buddhism, a religious doctrine that has long been worshipped in China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
"Everyone is talking about Tibetan Buddhism now. Pop stars are talking about it, my friends are talking about it," Liu told the Global Times. "It is cool. It is even cooler to sing Tibetan prayers in Hip-hop!"
While more young people in the US are moving away from religion, in China, ostensibly a nation of atheists, many young adults like Liu say they feel a strong connection to Tibetan Buddhism.
To many people, Tibetan Buddhism and Han Chinese Buddhism are alike in many ways. Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism are two different practices that were formed on the same teachings. Chinese Buddhism has attracted many Chinese followers because it connects with Chinese culture and history. But Tibetan Buddhism offers the follower a wider range of practices and rituals that are believed to reach enlightenment faster.
The movement is flourishing and has become fashionable among young people in recent years. Many young non-Tibetan people wear Buddha prayer beads on their wrists as fashion accessories, but not necessarily as a mark of religious devotion.
"Many young people find Tibetan Buddhism more attractive than other religions because they think it is mysterious," Li Decheng, director of the Institute for Religious Studies under the China Tibetology Research Center, told the Global Times.
"It is also because it offers psychological comfort to these young people who find themselves lost amid China's rapid social and economic changes," Li continued.