Buddhist temple offers e-blessing service
07-24-2018    China Daily
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<p>Buddhism&nbsp;Online&nbsp;reported&nbsp;in&nbsp;WUHAN&nbsp;A&nbsp;famous&nbsp;Buddhist&nbsp;temple&nbsp;in&nbsp;Wuhan,&nbsp;capital&nbsp;of&nbsp;Hubei&nbsp;province,&nbsp;encourages&nbsp;people&nbsp;to&nbsp;send&nbsp;text&nbsp;</p>
<p>messages&nbsp;rather&nbsp;than&nbsp;burn&nbsp;incense&nbsp;to&nbsp;say&nbsp;their&nbsp;prayers.</p>
<p>"This&nbsp;go-green&nbsp;initiative&nbsp;is&nbsp;the&nbsp;first&nbsp;of&nbsp;its&nbsp;kind&nbsp;among&nbsp;Buddhist&nbsp;temples&nbsp;in&nbsp;China.&nbsp;It&nbsp;helps&nbsp;reduce&nbsp;the&nbsp;size&nbsp;of&nbsp;crowds&nbsp;during&nbsp;peak&nbsp;seasons&nbsp;</p>
<p>and&nbsp;lowers&nbsp;the&nbsp;risk&nbsp;of&nbsp;stampedes&nbsp;and&nbsp;fires,"&nbsp;said&nbsp;Han&nbsp;Xue,&nbsp;a&nbsp;lay&nbsp;Buddhist&nbsp;who&nbsp;works&nbsp;at&nbsp;Guiyuan&nbsp;Temple&nbsp;in&nbsp;Wuhan,&nbsp;which&nbsp;has&nbsp;hundreds</p>
<p>&nbsp;of&nbsp;thousands&nbsp;of&nbsp;visitors&nbsp;during&nbsp;Spring&nbsp;Festival.</p>
<p>Guiyuan&nbsp;Temple,&nbsp;built&nbsp;in&nbsp;1658,&nbsp;is&nbsp;in&nbsp;an&nbsp;urban&nbsp;part&nbsp;of&nbsp;Hanyang&nbsp;district&nbsp;surrounded&nbsp;by&nbsp;residential&nbsp;blocks.</p>
<p>In&nbsp;the&nbsp;past&nbsp;two&nbsp;weeks,&nbsp;the&nbsp;crowds&nbsp;of&nbsp;visitors&nbsp;grew,&nbsp;peaking&nbsp;at&nbsp;360,000&nbsp;on&nbsp;Jan&nbsp;27,&nbsp;the&nbsp;fifth&nbsp;day&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;first&nbsp;month&nbsp;in&nbsp;China's&nbsp;lunar&nbsp;</p>
<p>calendar,&nbsp;celebrated&nbsp;as&nbsp;the&nbsp;birthday&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;God&nbsp;of&nbsp;Fortune,&nbsp;when&nbsp;people&nbsp;traditionally&nbsp;worship&nbsp;at&nbsp;temples&nbsp;and&nbsp;pray.</p>
<p>In&nbsp;2010&nbsp;during&nbsp;that&nbsp;celebration,&nbsp;600,000&nbsp;people&nbsp;went&nbsp;to&nbsp;the&nbsp;temple,&nbsp;and&nbsp;Wuhan&nbsp;authorities&nbsp;dispatched&nbsp;4,000&nbsp;police&nbsp;officers&nbsp;in&nbsp;case&nbsp;</p>
<p>of&nbsp;fires,&nbsp;stampedes&nbsp;and&nbsp;traffic&nbsp;jams.</p>
<p>This&nbsp;year,&nbsp;although&nbsp;the&nbsp;ticket&nbsp;price&nbsp;had&nbsp;doubled&nbsp;from&nbsp;10&nbsp;yuan&nbsp;($1.60)&nbsp;a&nbsp;person&nbsp;to&nbsp;20&nbsp;yuan&nbsp;during&nbsp;Spring&nbsp;Festival,&nbsp;masses&nbsp;of&nbsp;visitors</p>
<p>&nbsp;kept&nbsp;pouring&nbsp;in.</p>
<p>Li&nbsp;Xiaobo,&nbsp;31,&nbsp;came&nbsp;with&nbsp;his&nbsp;wife&nbsp;from&nbsp;Guizhou&nbsp;province&nbsp;to&nbsp;see&nbsp;relatives&nbsp;in&nbsp;Jingzhou,&nbsp;a&nbsp;city&nbsp;in&nbsp;Hubei&nbsp;about&nbsp;220&nbsp;km&nbsp;from&nbsp;Wuhan.&nbsp;</p>
<p>They&nbsp;heard&nbsp;of&nbsp;Guiyuan&nbsp;Temple&nbsp;and&nbsp;wanted&nbsp;to&nbsp;see&nbsp;it&nbsp;for&nbsp;themselves.</p>
<p>The&nbsp;temple,&nbsp;in&nbsp;cooperation&nbsp;with&nbsp;the&nbsp;Hubei&nbsp;branch&nbsp;of&nbsp;China&nbsp;Mobile,&nbsp;a&nbsp;leading&nbsp;Chinese&nbsp;telecom&nbsp;operator,&nbsp;offers&nbsp;a&nbsp;service&nbsp;of&nbsp;blessings</p>
<p>&nbsp;sent&nbsp;by&nbsp;text&nbsp;messaging.</p>
<p>A&nbsp;message&nbsp;with&nbsp;eight&nbsp;or&nbsp;fewer&nbsp;characters&nbsp;costs&nbsp;3&nbsp;yuan,&nbsp;and&nbsp;longer&nbsp;ones&nbsp;of&nbsp;up&nbsp;to&nbsp;20&nbsp;characters&nbsp;cost&nbsp;10&nbsp;yuan.&nbsp;Normally,&nbsp;text&nbsp;messages&nbsp;</p>
<p>cost&nbsp;no&nbsp;more&nbsp;than&nbsp;0.15&nbsp;yuan.</p>
<p>The&nbsp;sender&nbsp;writes&nbsp;the&nbsp;text&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;blessing&nbsp;and&nbsp;includes&nbsp;the&nbsp;cell&nbsp;phone&nbsp;number&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;receiver.</p>
<p>&nbsp;China&nbsp;Mobile&nbsp;forwards&nbsp;the&nbsp;blessing&nbsp;to&nbsp;the&nbsp;receiver.From&nbsp;8&nbsp;am&nbsp;to&nbsp;5&nbsp;pm,&nbsp;the&nbsp;messages&nbsp;are&nbsp;shown&nbsp;on&nbsp;an&nbsp;LED&nbsp;board&nbsp;at&nbsp;the&nbsp;southwest&nbsp;</p>
<p>corner&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;temple.&nbsp;</p>
<p>Monks&nbsp;later&nbsp;chant&nbsp;prayers&nbsp;for&nbsp;the&nbsp;senders&nbsp;and&nbsp;receivers. More&nbsp;than&nbsp;30,000&nbsp;people&nbsp;have&nbsp;already&nbsp;tried&nbsp;the&nbsp;service&nbsp;they&nbsp;have&nbsp;to&nbsp;be&nbsp;China&nbsp;Mobile&nbsp;subscribers&nbsp;with&nbsp;phone&nbsp;numbers&nbsp;in&nbsp;Hubei&nbsp;province.</p>
<p>Yang&nbsp;Guo,&nbsp;an&nbsp;employee&nbsp;at&nbsp;the&nbsp;Hubei&nbsp;branch&nbsp;of&nbsp;China&nbsp;Mobile&nbsp;who&nbsp;oversees&nbsp;the&nbsp;service,&nbsp;said&nbsp;more&nbsp;than&nbsp;1,000&nbsp;text&nbsp;messages&nbsp;were&nbsp;sent</p>
<p>&nbsp;each&nbsp;day&nbsp;in&nbsp;the&nbsp;past&nbsp;two&nbsp;weeks,&nbsp;adding&nbsp;that&nbsp;the&nbsp;service&nbsp;will&nbsp;remain&nbsp;available&nbsp;after&nbsp;Spring&nbsp;Festival.</p>
<p>Yang&nbsp;Meiqin,&nbsp;49,&nbsp;a&nbsp;business&nbsp;owner&nbsp;in&nbsp;Wuhan,&nbsp;received&nbsp;a&nbsp;blessing&nbsp;message&nbsp;from&nbsp;a&nbsp;friend.&nbsp;She&nbsp;liked&nbsp;the&nbsp;idea&nbsp;and&nbsp;went&nbsp;to&nbsp;the&nbsp;temple&nbsp;</p>
<p>to&nbsp;learn&nbsp;how&nbsp;it&nbsp;works.</p>
<p>Chen&nbsp;Meng,&nbsp;37,&nbsp;another&nbsp;Wuhan&nbsp;businesswoman,&nbsp;got&nbsp;a&nbsp;similar&nbsp;blessing&nbsp;from&nbsp;a&nbsp;friend&nbsp;who&nbsp;visited&nbsp;the&nbsp;temple&nbsp;on&nbsp;Friday.</p>
<p>Chen&nbsp;was&nbsp;moved&nbsp;by&nbsp;the&nbsp;gesture&nbsp;and&nbsp;said&nbsp;it&nbsp;showed&nbsp;religious&nbsp;circles&nbsp;are&nbsp;trying&nbsp;to&nbsp;stay&nbsp;in&nbsp;pace&nbsp;with&nbsp;modern&nbsp;China&nbsp;and&nbsp;appeal&nbsp;</p>
<p>to&nbsp;younger&nbsp;generations.</p>
<p>But&nbsp;Li&nbsp;Jian,&nbsp;28,&nbsp;who&nbsp;works&nbsp;at&nbsp;a&nbsp;design&nbsp;office&nbsp;in&nbsp;Wuhan,&nbsp;disapproves,&nbsp;saying&nbsp;the&nbsp;service&nbsp;taints&nbsp;the&nbsp;purity&nbsp;of&nbsp;Buddhism&nbsp;and&nbsp;detracts&nbsp;</p>
<p>from&nbsp;the&nbsp;prayer,&nbsp;making&nbsp;it&nbsp;an&nbsp;impious&nbsp;act.</p>
<p>Zhang&nbsp;Tongyou,&nbsp;63,&nbsp;a&nbsp;Beijing&nbsp;resident&nbsp;and&nbsp;Buddhist&nbsp;for&nbsp;more&nbsp;than&nbsp;20&nbsp;years,&nbsp;said&nbsp;temples&nbsp;should&nbsp;not&nbsp;charge&nbsp;money&nbsp;for&nbsp;displaying&nbsp;text</p>
<p>&nbsp;messages.</p>
<p>"Other&nbsp;temples&nbsp;can&nbsp;do&nbsp;the&nbsp;same,&nbsp;free&nbsp;of&nbsp;charge,&nbsp;if&nbsp;it&nbsp;helps&nbsp;reduce&nbsp;the&nbsp;crowds&nbsp;during&nbsp;peak&nbsp;seasons,"&nbsp;Zhang&nbsp;said.</p>
<p>Wei&nbsp;Chi,&nbsp;a&nbsp;lay&nbsp;Buddhist&nbsp;who&nbsp;works&nbsp;at&nbsp;Famen&nbsp;Temple,&nbsp;Fufeng&nbsp;county,&nbsp;120&nbsp;km&nbsp;west&nbsp;of&nbsp;Xi'an,&nbsp;capital&nbsp;of&nbsp;Northwest&nbsp;China's&nbsp;Shaanxi&nbsp;</p>
<p>province,&nbsp;said&nbsp;temples&nbsp;should&nbsp;not&nbsp;seek&nbsp;to&nbsp;profit&nbsp;from&nbsp;people&nbsp;sending&nbsp;prayer&nbsp;messages.</p>
<p>According&nbsp;to&nbsp;Wei,&nbsp;nearly&nbsp;60,000&nbsp;people&nbsp;came&nbsp;to&nbsp;Famen&nbsp;Temple&nbsp;on&nbsp;Jan&nbsp;23,&nbsp;Lunar&nbsp;New&nbsp;Year's&nbsp;Day.&nbsp;On&nbsp;that&nbsp;alone,&nbsp;visitors&nbsp;did&nbsp;not&nbsp;have&nbsp;</p>
<p>to&nbsp;pay&nbsp;to&nbsp;enter.&nbsp;The&nbsp;rest&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;year,&nbsp;tickets&nbsp;cost&nbsp;120&nbsp;yuan&nbsp;apiece.</p>
<p>The&nbsp;old&nbsp;Famen&nbsp;Temple&nbsp;could&nbsp;not&nbsp;have&nbsp;handled&nbsp;such&nbsp;a&nbsp;crowd.&nbsp;But&nbsp;after&nbsp;an&nbsp;expansion&nbsp;completed&nbsp;in&nbsp;May&nbsp;2008,&nbsp;with&nbsp;investment&nbsp;from&nbsp;a&nbsp;</p>
<p>company&nbsp;under&nbsp;the&nbsp;government&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;Qujiang&nbsp;New&nbsp;Area&nbsp;of&nbsp;Xi'an,&nbsp;a&nbsp;square&nbsp;in&nbsp;the&nbsp;new&nbsp;Buddhism themed&nbsp;tourist&nbsp;zone&nbsp;can&nbsp;hold&nbsp;400,000&nbsp;people,&nbsp;Wei&nbsp;said.</p>
<p>Lingyin&nbsp;Temple&nbsp;in&nbsp;Hangzhou,&nbsp;capital&nbsp;of&nbsp;East&nbsp;China's&nbsp;Zhejiang&nbsp;province,&nbsp;can&nbsp;also&nbsp;handle&nbsp;huge&nbsp;crowds&nbsp;during&nbsp;holidays,&nbsp;according&nbsp;to&nbsp;a&nbsp;</p>
<p>temple&nbsp;employee&nbsp;who&nbsp;declined&nbsp;to&nbsp;identify&nbsp;himself.</p>
<p>"Temples&nbsp;can&nbsp;decide&nbsp;for&nbsp;themselves&nbsp;whether&nbsp;they&nbsp;have&nbsp;the&nbsp;technical&nbsp;and&nbsp;financial&nbsp;resources&nbsp;to&nbsp;spread&nbsp;prayer&nbsp;and&nbsp;blessings&nbsp;by&nbsp;text&nbsp;</p>
<p>messaging,&nbsp;and&nbsp;whether&nbsp;to&nbsp;charge&nbsp;for&nbsp;the&nbsp;service&nbsp;or&nbsp;offer&nbsp;it&nbsp;free.</p>
<p>"Lingyin&nbsp;Temple&nbsp;has&nbsp;the&nbsp;experience&nbsp;to&nbsp;manage&nbsp;the&nbsp;crowds&nbsp;and&nbsp;doesn't&nbsp;need&nbsp;to&nbsp;keep&nbsp;people&nbsp;at&nbsp;home&nbsp;sending&nbsp;text&nbsp;messages,"&nbsp;he&nbsp;said.</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
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