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Feature: "Sutra hall tent" in shelter of quake-hit Tibet

By Source:China Tibet Online 2015-05-28

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Photo taken on May 24 shows nuns chanting sutras in the "Sutra hall tent".[Photo/Xinhua]

This is an ordinary tent for disaster relief. Near to the tent, you can clearly hear the sound of some nuns chanting sutras. Upon entering the tent, you can see the sparkling butter lamps.

Lhapa Drolma, a nun of over 40 years old, is chanting sutras inside the tent for Buddhists victims of the earthquake.

One elderly man, sitting inside the doorway of the “sutra hall tent”, listens to the chanting while unceasingly twisting the prayer beads of his rosary in his hand.

In the largest settlement for earthquake victims in Tibet, the Samdruptse shelter in Shigatse, the local government specially arranged a "sutra hall tent" in order to show respect to and meet the religious need of Buddhist clergy and followers, while praying for the souls of those died in the earthquake.

The "sutra hall tent" in the the Samdruptse Shelter is tent No. 259 in Area C. In the center of the tent hang three Thangka portraits; piled on top of blue mineral water cases are fruit, yogurt and other offerings. The light from a small butter lamp glitters as if to foretell a bright and hopeful future.

All four nuns inside the "sutra hall tent" come from the Tashi Tongdroling Nunnery in Lixin Village in Nyalam County. In the earthquake occurred on April 25, some buildings at the Tashi Tongdroling Nunnery collapsed, and four nuns were buried under the ruins. "Fortunately, they were rescued in time thanks to PLA soldiers, otherwise the consequences would be unimaginable," said Lhapa Drolma.

May 23 is the "fourth-seven" memorial day for Ngawang who died in the earthquake. According to traditional Tibetan funeral customs, Lhapa Drolma and three other nuns chanted sutras aloud for the victims of the earthquake and pray for their transcendence.

"Every day we chant sutras for the disaster victims, and with the arrival of the month of Saga Dawa, we are busier than ever." Lhapa Drolma finished chanting sutras and gently adjusted the wick of the butter lamp.

"Thanks to the ‘sutra hall tent’ set up in the shelter, it is easier for us to chant sutras during the Saga Dawa Festival." Yangtsong, an elderly woman, said while holding a prayer wheel that although there were no casualties in her family in this earthquake, she still prays every day for the victims from her village.

According to historical records on religion, the fifteenth day of the fourth Tibetan month is the birth, enlightenment, and Parinirvana of Buddha Sakyamuni. Because of this, the whole of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar is celebrated as Buddha’s birthday month, and Buddhist clergy and followers take ritual walks, give alms, burn incense, and free captive animals in order to commemorate the birth of the Buddha.

According to Tibet earthquake relief headquarters, in this earthquake, 242 monasteries in Tibet suffered varying degrees of damage, and 2,566 monks and nuns were affected by the disaster.

With the arrival of the month of Saga Dawa, taking into account the special dietary needs of monks and nuns, the local government  also specially arranged a single "dining hall tent" which provides vegetarian food for them.

According to data provided by the Samdruptse Shelter Temporary Administrative Committee, the settlement houses 1,335 people affected by the earthquake, including 31 monks and nuns.

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