More than 800 volunteers washed and cleaned 15,400 Buddha statues of varying sizes at the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Kaohsiung on Monday, an action that senior monk Hui Chuan (慧傳) said would cleanse people’s minds as they prepare to greet the new year.
Fo Guang Shan Monastery, the largest in southern Taiwan, started the campaign to clean the Buddha statues as part of its activities to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China.
Hsin Pei (心培), the monastery’s head monk, said Buddha, as an -enlightened being, would not care if his images were covered with dust.
However, the ritual and symbolic action of cleaning his statues with water could endear believers to Buddha’s body, enabling them to get rid of not only the physical dirt, but also spiritual disturbances.
Hui said the temple held an -activity two years ago asking people to bathe and clothe seniors in a filial gesture of respect.
For similar reasons, he said, bathing the Buddha statues could be seen as a way for people to cleanse their minds, giving them the peace of mind needed to obtain the wisdom to weather all difficulties and enjoy a smooth and auspicious future.
A three-story scaffold was erected on the wall of the main temple hall and volunteers passed 14,800 statues down to the ground where another group of volunteer workers cleaned them with water.
In addition, another 600 statues were taken from three other halls for the annual cleaning, bringing the total to 15,400.
Many of the volunteers hailed from Argentina and other countries, some of whom came from three generations of the same family.
Chinese tourists visiting Fo Guang Shan marveled at the grand and rare sight of so many people acting together to wash Buddha statues, and some joined the ranks of volunteers.
When their tour guides called them to return to their tour buses, they regretted having to leave so soon.
“How quickly time passes! It’s too bad. I haven’t gotten enough of this,” one Chinese tourist said.