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Spending Habits Change
Tibetans now spend more money on consumer goods, education and medical expenses than on religious possessions, Xinhua news agency reported.

A survey of 45 households in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, shows that the families had 391 religious possessions 50 years ago, and 2,313 now. However, religious property only accounts for one-eighth of their total family property, according to the survey.

Cedain, 57, a Tibetan knifemaker in Lhaze County, last year donated more than 400 yuan (US$48) to temples, three times the figure in 1997. But this was only a small part of his total income.

Last year, Cedain built a 58,000-yuan multistory building. He also bought a truck, a tractor and modern household electric appliances.

Li Tao, an expert on Tibetan affairs, said that more than 20 years ago, Tibetans went to temples to rotate sutra canisters whenever they were free and usually put off farming work to attend religious activities.

They kept necessary amounts of money for daily life and other purposes for a year, and donated the rest of their income to temples, Li said. When they were ill, they often went to lamas for help, she said.

Li said a survey shows that with incomes increasing in recent years, the amount of money Tibetans spend in the religious sector exceeds the amount in the past. However, they are spending more on daily necessities, education for children and medical treatment.

Garqen Lobsangpuncog, a monk at the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, said the lamasery's income totaled 1 million yuan in 2000. But now, very few people donate all their family property to temples as they usually did in the past, he said.

Zhaxi Wangdui, a business-man on in Lhasa, said that he now spends more on his daughter, who is going to study at a junior middle school in the inland area in September.

The per capita consumption expenditure of local people totaled 1,339 yuan in 1990, and 5,309 yuan in 1999. Of the total amount, expenses on education rose by seven times over the decade, said Xinhua.

(Eastday.com 06/01/2001)

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