Lamas pray for peace in monastery neighboring Beijing

Updated: 2008-04-11 19:35

Chengde -- 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.

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