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Thứ Tư, tháng 11 29, 2006

No. 1267 ( Hạt Cát dịch)

Cambodian monks get the vote
DPA, Nov 29, 2006

Phnom Penh, Cambodia -- Cambodian Buddhist monks have the right to vote in upcoming commune and national elections, acting head of state Chea Sim told a Buddhist congress in the capital Wednesday.

His statement threatens to reignite a public debate which flared before the 2003 general elections when Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhists and leader of the Mahanikaya Buddhist sect in Cambodia, Tep Vong, declared monks should abstain from voting.

Chea Sim, who is also president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and leader of the nation's Senate, told the 15th Annual Congress of Cambodian Buddhist Monks that monks have a perfect right to vote in a speech that also extolled them to use their social position to teach morality and promote social development.

"Cambodian Buddhist monks have the full right to vote," Chea Sim told around 500 senior Buddhist monks, officials, politicians and members of the country's Islamic community.

Although Cambodian monks have the constitutional right to vote, debate has raged about their role in politics and whether they should be above political opinions.

Some Cambodians remember as positive the role they played in the resistance against French colonial rule and other regimes, while others worry in the wake of protests involving Buddhist monks which turned violent after the 1993 and 1998 national elections.

Still others maintain that monks visiting crowded polling booths are at risk of temptation and in danger of such taboos such as accidentally touching women.

Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong is known to be a supporter of the CPP. Recently he has refrained from commenting on the issue of monks voting as commune elections loom for April 2007. National elections are scheduled for 2008.

Cambodia, which is 95 per cent Buddhist, currently has more than 57,500 Buddhist monks and 4,135 pagodas across the country.

No.1266 (Minh Chau dich)

Tallest Buddha statue coming up in Sarnath

ANI, Nov 29, 2006

Its height will be second only to the Bamiyan Buddhas

SARNATH, Uttar Pradesh (India) -- A number of sculptors in Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh are busy chiselling an eighty feet tall statue of the Buddha, which will be the world's tallest Buddha statue after the ones demolished in Afganistan's Bamiyan valley under the Taliban regime.

The tallest Buddha statue is part of an old project, which started ten years ago but had to be put on hold in the wake of financial problems. The work was resumed three years ago with the assistance after the Government of Thailand extended its help for the project. It will take three more years to complete the statue.

``We are making a statue of Lord Buddha with the help of Thailand government. It will be the tallest statue of Buddha in a standing position and it comes second in height only to the Bamiyan Buddhas [statues]. It has been more than 10 years since we began work, and now we are also creating awareness about its construction,'' said Mohan Lal, designer of the statue.

``At least 20- 25 artisans are working on this statue for over three years.... it will take three to four more years to complete. Right now, we are through with the stomach, feet and the face. Two or three months will be taken for the finishing work,'' said Jyoti Singh Khushwaha, the contactor undertaking the construction of the statue.

Workers at the site said the statue would use over 635 blocks of sandstone and would be made in the Gandharva style, which laid great significance to it. The Buddha attained enlightenment at the age of 35 in Bodh Gaya in Bihar and finally departed from the world at the age of 80 in Kushinagar.

Situated 10 kilometres away from Varanasi, Sarnath is the place where the Buddha is believed to have delivered his first sermon in 500 B.C. The place has a number of stupas (hemispherical domes) and monasteries. In the early days of Buddhism, stupas were built to honour important events including Buddha's enlightenment.


No. 1265 ( Upekha dịch)

Buddhists pay $50 fines for worshipping in house
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
By John Tunison
The Grand Rapids Press
HOLLAND -- As self-described "peaceful people," leaders of an Olive Township Buddhist Temple were in no mood to fight claims they violated township rules by worshipping in a house.

The seven men pleaded guilty to a township ordinance violation Tuesday in Holland District Court and were sentenced to $50 fines.

"We are happy with this," said Chris Liravongsa, a spokesman for the group and an official with the Wat Siriphanyo Aram-Lao Temple on Port Sheldon Road near 124th Avenue.

"We are a peaceful people. We know we violated the ordinance. We don't want to fight," he said.

Their legal troubles may be resolved, but uncertainty remains about where the small group of worshippers will meet for the nine major gatherings integral to the Buddhist faith. About 20 families are part of the temple.

Liravongsa did not know Tuesday whether the Aram Temple would sell the house bought two years ago or try to worship at a different location. In the past, worshippers scheduled gatherings at a West Ottawa middle school, but not many people attended because they were uncomfortable being away from the home's shrines.

Olive Township filed the misdemeanor ordinance violations against temple leaders earlier this fall because the ranch-style home and an adjacent pole barn were being used for assembly without township approval.

The township also complained worshippers were parking as many as 30 cars at a time on the property, a parcel with neighbors on both sides.

Zoning officials said the Aram Temple must abide by a site plan permit issued in 2005 to build a new 4,000-square-foot building and parking lot and not worship out of a home that may not be safe from fire hazards for large assemblies.

Temple members say they have not raised the funds needed for construction.

Holland District Judge Brad Knoll told temple leaders free expression of religion is an important right.

"It's not the intent of the court to interfere with your religious practice, but the balance here is you must obey the township zoning ordinance. Unless the provisions of that ordinance are successfully challenged, you must obey them," he said.