10/12/2019, 08.56
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Buddhist authorities of Mandalay: No bazaars in temples

The places of worship are located in the municipality of Chan Aye Tharzan.  The eviction order comes from the local chapter of the Sangha Maha Nayaka State Committee, an institution that oversees and regulates the clergy. Commercial activities discovered in the monasteries include gambling houses.


Naypyidaw (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The highest Buddhist authorities in the Mandalay region have established that 65 monasteries in the municipality of Chan Aye Tharzan have to evict commercial activities from religious buildings by tomorrow.  The order comes directly from the local chapter of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee - a body composed of high-ranking monks, chosen by the government to oversee and regulate the Sangha (the clergy).

On 1 October last, the body launched a five-day survey on local monasteries. It revealed that 65 religious communities host shops and stalls.  Sayadaw U Dhamma Dipadi, head of the Committee, declares: “We want to clean up places of worship.  We are worried that the monasteries will disappear, if we allow the laity to live and work within them”.

Among the commercial activities mentioned in the investigation there are car repair shops, gambling houses, masonary workshops, sawmills and classrooms for private lessons.  The religion authorities also discovered several people who lived in monasteries illegally.

The Committee has warned traders who face a lawsuit in court if they do not leave the premises by tomorrow;  the names of monasteries and monks who have allowed these activities will be made public.  Mandalay's chief minister, U Zaw Myint Maung, said that unscrupulous people exploit the religious land to do business, even though they know this is illegal.  The politician has promised that the regional government will provide for their eviction.

Myanmar is the most religious Buddhist nation, both in terms of the size of the clergy (in relation to the population) and in terms of income earmarked for religion.  The monks, venerated members of Burmese society, number about 500,000 and the nuns are 75,000.  Mandalay, the city that gives its name to the central Myanmar region, is the second largest urban center in the country after Yangon, but is considered by many to be the cradle of national Buddhism: here and in the surrounding areas about half of the Sangha members live.

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