The price(s) of salvation
August 25, 2008 § Leave a comment
Shanghai, China – Yu Fo Si Jade Buddha Temple, Anyuan Lu 170
The Festival of the Dead. A time when the souls of the underworld are free from purgatory to roam the living world and invited to Buddhist temples to feast and be appeased by their relatives during a three day vigil of incense burning and paper offerings.
Buddhist temples all over the world open their doors to the general public and the devout to pay their respects in a haphazard production that belies the facts and figures reserved for a select few.
Ensconced within the heart of the temple compound at Yi Fo Si, within a gilt lined hall, smoky with the fragrance of incense from a rare wood found exclusively in the jungles of Vietnam and Indonesia, 400 people are lined in silent and strategic rows. They wear identical black robes and pray separated from the cacophony of the jostling hoards outside. The front row is given to the highest paying local patron to the temple. The second row is given to the highest paying foreigner. The cheap seats are in the back.
Front row prayer seats – US$200,000
Second row prayer seats – US$100,000
The cheap seats at the back – US$3,000
One strand of fragrant rare wood prayer beads – US$15,000
Twenty sticks of rare wood incense – US$100
*All available from the temple shop
The total cost of the festival to the temple each year is approx. one million USD.