Buddhist monks at a prominent pagoda in northern Vietnam have been ordered by state officials to stop offering highly profitable “bad karma-removing” ceremonies.
Monks at Ba Vang pagoda, which stands on a mountain slope in Uong Bi City of Quang Ninh province, have been ordered to stop rituals where karma would be removed from worshipers who reportedly pay large sums of money.
On March 24, the People’s Committee of Uong Bi City ordered the pagoda’s head monk, Venerable Thich Truc Thai Minh, to stop these rituals which “cause widespread discontent among people and danger of security disorder in the locality.”
The next day the pagoda also closed down its website at the request of authorities.
The monks from the pagoda have not publicly responded to the government order.
The pagoda’s monks had held regular two-day ceremonies to “summon wandering souls” and “remove bad karma.” For someone to participate in the ceremony, the monks ask for financial donations or voluntary labor. Such acts supposedly constitute good deeds that help cure bad karma or resolve bad deeds committed in previous lives.
Local media reported that the pagoda receives 100 billion dong (US$4.3 million) per year from worshipers’ donations.