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Special> China's Tibet: Facts & Figures> Society
UPDATED: June 23, 2008  
Living Buddha: Religious Activities Revive in Tibetan Monasteries

Religious activities has been revived in monasteries across Tibet, a living Buddha said on Sunday.

"The religious activities were interrupted by riot in March, but they all have been resumed as the whole region has come into peace," said Dadrak Tenzin Gelek, a living Buddha and vice president of the Tibetan branch of the Buddhist Association of China, when answering a foreign reporter in Lhasa.

Monasteries including the Sera monastery and Zhaibung Monastery had held religious events to pray for the peace of the world and the success of the Beijing Olympics earlier.

The lamas and Lamaism believers had also prayed for the people hit by the earthquake in Sichuan Province. As of June, the Tibetan religious circle had donated more than 1,117,000 yuan (nearly 162,000 U.S. dollars) for the quake-hit areas.

The most important religious festival Sakadawa Festival, the anniversary of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death, began on June 4 and lasts one month, Dadrak Tenzin Gelek said.

The religious event had been normalized during the festival, he said.

"The Chinese Government had carried out series of favourable policies for lamas here. We can also do tax-free businesses besides our religious activities. All the ticket income belongs to the monasteries," the living Buddha said.

The average annual income of the lamas in Zhaibung Monastery was more than 30,000 yuan (about 4,300 U.S. dollars) while ordinary herdsmen in Tibet earnt 2,788 yuan, he said.

Lamas enjoy free medical care and can get reimbursement of medical fees at their own monasteries.

A party of foreign reporters had been exempted from the ban on reporters and foreigners in Tibet, to cover the Olympic torch relay on Friday. They will all have left on Sunday.

(Xinhua News Agency June 22, 2008)

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