Thursday, November 27, 2014

More Longhua

The incredible picture above showed up on my WeChat this morning from my undergraduate friend: this is happening at Longhua today, he wrote. Are the statues and offerings still out, I wrote back? If so, I'll find time to go see them. Happily he was in class (at Fudan) so didn't get to tell me that these were in fact stock images distributed on the volunteers' WeChat list this morning - he wasn't at the temple - until I was most of the way to the temple myself. (I was already part way there buying some Christmas presents at the Shanghai Museum Gift Shop.) At Longhua was no trace of this splendid liturgy when I got there, but what was there made me doubly glad to have gone. There were no monks in sight but the place was full of people, abuzz with their conversations as, seated in every available space, they rolled and folded paper and silver foil - the activity I'd seen in the big dim room on Tuesday. (That room was fuller, too - see right.) This is their place, too. A reminder of where it was all headed came in the first gate, where larger tissue paper structures I'd seen in the making attended an elaborate paper boat - the very thing we'd seen torched in the ritual Longhua volunteers helped out at in the photos we saw. The conflagration is Saturday afternoon; I'm going to try to attend.

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