Reuters blog archive
At the sprawling red shirt encampment in central bank, Buddhist monks clad in their distinctive saffron robes mingle with men wearing helmets walking around with sharpened bamboo sticks.
Just about every night, rumours sweep the the sprawling encampment of tents, sounds trucks and makeshift stalls that a long anticipated crackdown is imminent. The men stare at the three-metre barricades made of tyres, bamboo poles and rubble that surround much of the encampment, about the size of a large city park, waiting to pelt soldiers armed with assault rifles with pellets from their sling shots and thrusts of their bamboo spears.
The monks are there for moral support, and to receive "merit" from the red shirts, who have occupied some of the most expensive real estate in Thailand for the past seven weeks in their campaign for early elections. "Making merit" involves giving an offering -- food, some spare change to a monk -- perhaps in the hope of a more accommodating afterlife, should death suddenly intervene. As it well could on the barricades when you're fending off automatic weapons fire with a bamboo stick.
Even a "living goddess" is sometimes faced with tough decisions.
Chanira Bajracharya, 15, has been the Kumari or "living goddess" of Patan, an ancient town south of Kathmandu, for nine years, blessing devotees at the temple and riding in decorated chariots 18 times a year during Hindu and Buddhist festivals.
Rehabilitation and religion were the two themes Tiger Woods was most open about discussing in his first television interviews Sunday since revelations about his marriage infidelities emerged last November. Woods has long been connected to Buddhism through his Thai mother and he said his detachment from the religion had been behind his fall from grace.
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama on Thursday after avoiding a get-together before his China trip last year. The White House visit by the Tibetan Buddhist leader comes at a time of increased tension between the United States and China, which has warned that the session will hurt Sino-U.S. ties.
Since 1990 every U.S. president has met the Dalai Lama at the White House. President George H.W. Bush started the tradition after the Chinese authorities crushed student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and an uprising in Tibet.
Singapore has warned an evangelical Christian pastor that his online videos are offensive to Buddhists and Taoists, underlining the city-state's concerns that religion is a potential faultline for its multicultural society.
Pastor Rony Tan, of the Lighthouse Evangelism megachurch, apologized and pulled the video clips off the internet after being visited by the government's Internal Security Department (ISD) on Monday, the pastor and the government said on their websites. "I sincerely apologize for my insensitivity towards the Buddhists and Taoists, and solemnly promise that it will never happen again," Tan said.
He raps. He chants. And this month, Japan's famed hip-hop loving monk, better known as MC Happiness, will tap dance on stage, in the name of Buddhism.
Kansho Tagai heads the 400-year-old Kyoouji Temple in central Tokyo, offering softly chanted prayers throughout the day amid traditional bell chimes and wafts of incense.
For centuries the Punakha Dzong monastic fortress in Bhutan's Himalayas has sheltered ancient Buddhist relics and scriptures from earthquakes, fires and Tibetan invasions. Now the lamas here may have met their match -- global warming.
At least 53 million cubic metres of glacier melt is threatening to break the banks of a lake upstream in the Himalayan peaks and spark a "mountain tsunami" in Punakha valley.
from Raw Japan:
In the minds of many people, religious rivalry could occasionally be expected to spill over into violence in places as diverse as the occupied West Bank or Glasgow's 'Old Firm' football derby.
Japan's Kansai region, home to the world's most renowned Zen gardens and some of the country's finest cuisine, on the other hand, is not generally seen as a tinderbox of religious tension.
A plastic bottle thrown into a Taipei recycling bin could be reincarnated as a blanket to warm disaster victims in any of 20 countries, thanks to a unique project by the world's largest Buddhist charity.
The Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has been taking plastic bottles from the waste stream of Taipei, a city of 2.6 million, for three years to convert them into about 244,000 polyester blankets intended for disaster zones. It has sent volunteers with relief supplies to some of the world's biggest disasters, including Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 and last year's devastating Sichuan earthquake in China.