Hundreds of Tibetan lamas held a Buddhist service for earthquake victims on Monday in northwest China's Qinghai Province, as part of a three-day national mourningperiod that began the same day.
The service at the Taer Monastery, a holy site for Tibetan Buddhism, began after a three-minute silent tribute from 2:28 p.m.,which was also performed across the country.
The lamas, aged from nine to 90-something, performed their service in hope of releasing the souls of the people who died fromsuffering.
"In this way we hope to alleviate their sufferings," said Ngandain, the vice head of the monastery.
The 1,000-some lamas in the monastery have donated more than 110,000 yuan (15,714 U.S. dollars) to people affected in the quake.
Many visitors also prayed silently on Monday beside a row of white dagobas, which symbolize sanctity and harmony in Tibetan culture.
"We set the trip to Taer Monastery today so that we can pray for the quake-stricken people," said a woman visitor from Beijing surnamed Hu.
"We hope to send our most sincere wishes to them and may they overcome their difficulties soon," she added.
The monastery held another Tibetan Buddhist service in the morning.
A 35-by-25-meter portrait of Tson-Khapa, founder of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, was gradually unfurled while nearly 10,000 Tibetans and about 400 lamas prostrated themselves and prayed for peace for the people in Sichuan and other quake-hit regions.
"More than 30,000 people died in the earthquake in Sichuan, andthey are relatives of we Tibetans," said local resident Dainzin.
The devastating 8.0-magnitude tremor hit Wenchuan County, Sichuan, claiming 33,570 lives in the province alone as of 4 p.m. Monday.
Nationwide, the confirmed death toll climbed to 34,073 as of noon on Monday, but the final figure was estimated to exceed 50,000.
(Xinhua News Agency May 19, 2008)