The prayer gathering has been held for 21 years. The official reason for the ban is overcrowding and unfinished reconstruction. More than 4,000 monastic residences have been demolished in a year, forcing out more than 4,800 Tibetan monks and nuns.
Beijing (AsiaNews/RFA) – Authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan province have shut down preparations for a major prayer gathering at the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy.
The ban was announced on 29 October, reversing an earlier decision to allow the festival, set to take place on 6 November. This is the second year in a row that the event has not been allowed. In the past, it was held 21 times.
The academy brings together tens of thousands of young Tibetans and Chinese to deepen their faith and study the sacred texts of Tibetan Buddhism.
The event has long been in the crosshair of the authorities. As part of an urban reconstruction plan, a year ago, they ordered the demolition of many monastic residences, which forced monks and nuns to leave,.
This year the authorities cited overcrowding by festival participants and unfinished reconstruction work at Larung Gar as reasons for the ban.
Sources told Radio Free Asia that in 2016 Chinese authorities have destroyed 4,725 monastic residences, more than 7,000 since 2001, when they began to reduce the presence of monks and nuns in the complex.
Since last year, more than 4,825 monks and nuns have been expelled, with many forced back to their hometowns, deprived of the opportunity to pursue their religious studies.
On 20 August, it was announced that the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy would be run by six Tibetan members of the Communist Party.