Chinese monks pray for Yushu quake victims

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Monks across China on Wednesday chanted prayers for the victims of the earthquake that struck northwest China's Qinghai Province in April, exactly 49 days after the deaths, which according to Buddhist belief marks the start of the souls' reincarnation.

Major temples of the three main schools of Buddhism in China all held prayer rituals for the about 2,700 victims killed in the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit Yushu on April 14, a statement from the Buddhist Association of China (BAC) said.

About 1,000 Mahayana Buddhist monks attended the prayer session at Beijing's Guangji Temple led by Chuanyin, the BAC president, while the 11th Panchen Lama, the association's vice president, hosted another prayer session at the Lama Temple, an important Tibetan Buddhist temple in Beijing.

In southwestern Yunnan Province, monks of Hinayana Buddhism gathered at the Zongfo Temple to pray.

Other important temples in Shanxi, Zhejiang, Shanghai and Lhasa also held prayer rituals at the same time.

The monks prayed for the victims' souls and for the survivors to overcome the hardships caused by the disaster.

Xuecheng, BAC vice president and secretary general, presided over the prayer ritual at the Gyegu Monastery, the main temple in quake-hit Yushu.

About 1,000 monks and local residents attended the prayer ritual at the massive cremation site for hundreds of Tibetan quake victims in Gyegu township.

Many local residents arrived at the cremation site early in the morning, praying for the dead while turning prayer wheels. Some kowtowed in memory of the dead.

"So many eminent monks and living Buddhas attended the prayer ritual and I believe my love is sure to enter the paradise," said Benma, who lost her husband in the quake.

"Many good-hearted people have given us support and the monks have been praying day and night," she said.

Xuecheng presented to local monks the 2.3 million yuan (338,000 U.S. dollars) raised by the BAC on April 16.

According to the State Administration for Religious Affairs, religious circles had donated about 94.52 million yuan (13.72 million dollars) as of Tuesday, of which 70.45 million yuan came from Buddhists.

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