Lamas dance with the ‘devil’ at Beijing temple

Masked lamas performed their annual “devil dance”, a ritual believed to ward off disasters and ghosts, on Monday at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing.
The performance, also called Buza Dancing, a term that originates from the Mongolian language and means “beating the devils”, is held every year on the 30th day of the first lunar month.
On Tuesday morning, the last day of the ceremony, lamas will circle the temple while carrying a golden statue of Maitreya Buddha, also known as the Laughing Buddha, an embodiment of kindness. A large group of Buddhists will follow behind.

This will mark the climax of an eight-day ceremony that monks observe to pray for peace and prosperity in the coming year.
The devil dance has been held annually since 1987, when it was reinstated after a period of suspension.
At 3 pm, the abbot appeared with his full entourage, all dressed in ritual costumes, from the east side of the hall. Behind the abbot, 12 lamas beat drums and cymbals as the “battle with the devil” took place.
Lamas escorted a skeletonlike figure symbolizing the devil onto the stage. The devil was later carried to the south gate of the temple and thrown into a fire, while Buddhist scriptures were recited. Many foreigners were among the audience.

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