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Temples auction off 'first incense' for lunar new year on Taobao

2015-02-06 14:30 Ecns.cn Web Editor: Mo Hong'e
Services offered by Buddhist and Taoist temples on Taobao. (Photo: www.thepaper.com)

Services offered by Buddhist and Taoist temples on Taobao. (Photo: www.thepaper.com)

(ECNS) -- At least six Buddhist and Taoist temples in China have offered auctions on Taobao.com, China's largest online marketplace, for services during the upcoming Chinese New Year, Shanghai-based The Paper reported.

Besides Buddhist prayer beads and statues, intangible items are also on offer, including a temple's first stick of incense or first gong strike on February 19 during Chinese Spring Festival.

Many people queue outside temples overnight for the chance to pray for good luck for the coming year.

Depending on the fame each temple, the starting price ranges greatly. The Chun Yang Temple of Datong, Shanxi province set the price at 5,000 yuan ($799) for its first piece of burnt incense while the Daciyan Hanging Temple in Jiande, Zhejiang province has a price tag of 8,000 yuan ($1279).

Compared to these intangible products, physical items such as calligraphy pertaining to the "Fu" Character, which means blessing and fortune, and Buddha beads and statues, proved more popular, with the price for some items reaching as much as 3.1 million yuan ($0.5 million) in past auctions.

"We have refused an investment company before for fear that our temple might be too commercialized, so we have turned to the auction as a way of raising funds for construction and development," a master at Huadu temple in Shaanxi province explained.

Auctioning the temple's treasures is not meant for commercial gain. All money collected will be used for building new Buddhist Prayer rooms and worshipping halls, which will open to the public in future.

"It can do more good than harm," it was added.

The Daciyan Hanging Temple also hopes to popularize Buddhist culture and their temple through the new communication channel.

"All revenues will be used for maintenance and expansion," said a man surnamed Qian, in charge of online auctioning.

He added that bidding would integrate traditional Chinese Buddhist culture with advanced Internet technology that could make religious culture more widely accessible.

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