For the first time in 300 years, the renowned Shaolin Temple
held a ritual on Thursday to initiate 600 believers into
On that same day, millions of monks and believers nationwide
observed the Buddha bath festival which usually includes the
washing of all statues of the Buddha.
The ceremony used to be considered an official ritual to
recognize a believer into true monkhood.
Shi Yongxin, leader of Shaolin Temple and vice- president of the
Buddhist Association of China, said that Buddhism in China has
embarked on a "golden era" of development with a rapidly increasing
number of believers.
According to Shi, China has about 100 million registered
religious believers, most of whom are Buddhists and Taoists. "They
form an indispensable force to construct a harmonious society," he
Shi said the ritual was suspended for 300 years because the
altar where the ritual was held was destroyed. The 26-meter-high
three-storey alter was restored last year at the temple, located in
Dengfeng, central China's Henan Province.
The 600 Buddhists were selected out of 1,000 pious Buddhists
Shi said that only Buddhists who have passed a long-term
inspection and are believed to have a "pre-destined lot" with
Buddhism will be allowed to take the ritual and admitted by the
"Only Buddhists who practice Buddhism to a high level can be
tonsured and allowed to take the ritual," Shi said.
The ritual will last 28 days during which time the 600 monks
will listen to doctrines, learn Buddhism rituals and manners in the
Both Buddhism and Taoism seem to be attracting more
An international forum on the "Daode Jing", a classic of Taoism, was held last
month and lured 300 Taoists from around the world who wanted to
explore the true essence of the classic text.
(China Daily May 26, 2007)