Saturday, November 29, 2014

Longhua Shuilu Rite one last time

Went back to Longhua one more time this afternoon to see one of the consummations of the 水陆法会 Shuilu festival, which I now know is to be translated "Land and Sea Dharma Assembly." Just inside the main gate lots of things were being burnt by the paper bag and box.
The place was packed with people of all ages (tho' few children)
Volunteers wait for the monks to start the main procession
Here they come, fresh from liturgy in the upper room, bearing offerings
Each monk is preceded by a lantern and a banner-bearer, the whole group preceded by gongs and larger lanterns and followed by the main officiants, in crowns and under parasols, and a squeaky band, and a long line of lay devotés in black gowns with scarlet stoles, each bearing an incense holder - I have no pics because I shot a nice little video of it.
Many people join the bowing at the monks' first stop in the main hall
The procession circumambulates the pagoda outside the temple gate
The first of the paper offerings borne by the monks in procession, what looks to be a large red book, is burnt; the monks and lay devotés watch from inside the temple, while the volunteers make a grand avenue
Then it's back out the main gate to the pagoda, where a tissue paper boat full of yellow spirit money waits to be set afire.
This was pretty tame compared to others I've heard of. At the place Longhua volunteers helped at (the slide show in the volunteers' room), the boat was surrounded by a sea of paper bags stuffed with offerings. Recently at Baoshan Temple the ship was apparently joined by horses and riders, and even houses! Even at Longhua there were other paper sculptures aplenty; I wonder when they go up in merit-making flame?

As the boat burnt the monks and lay devotés returned to the temple, and I headed home. But I need to show you one more thing. What I've been calling the dimly lit hall, where lay folk were folding offerings the other two times I came, had been cleared out. Not just their offerings but the yellow cards with the names of the dead are in another place.

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