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Take our help for relief work: Tibetan monks to govt

Tibetan Buddhist monks, who are active in rescue operations after the massive earthquake in China, feel that their services have remained under utilised and have asked the government to reach out to them for relief work.

world Updated: Apr 20, 2010 14:49 IST

Tibetan Buddhist monks, who are active in rescue operations after the massive earthquake in China, feel that their services have remained under utilised and have asked the government to reach out to them for relief work.

Monks from various sects had shed their differences and plunged into relief work soon after the 7.1 temblor struck China's Tibetan dominated Qinghai province, feel they can do more if authorities coordinate with them.

"We are living Buddhas and people here respect us. There is so much we could do. Even with rescue work, since we are from places of high altitude, we could help with rescue work immediately" Longzhi, a Buddhist monk, among hundreds who took part in relief work said in the quake-hit Jiegu town.

"Instead, in most places where there were soldiers we were not allowed to help. We could only help dig in places where there were no government rescue workers yet," the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post quoted him as saying.

He along with Juechi a monk from another sect of Buddhism who worked together in the quake-hit areas urged the government to reach out more to monks.

"We talk about unity and harmonious society. Religion is an essential part of it. This is what religion is for," Longzhi said.

About 96 per cent of the population of quake hit Qinghai are Tibetans and it is also the native province of Dalai Lama, who asked the government to permit him to visit the areas to console people devastated by the quake.

Since the quake, crimson-robed monks have been handing out food, water and other essential items around the town. They were among the first ones to rush to rescue survivors and dug out survivors and bodies.

They are also handing out 200 yuan ($ 29) cash to each family who had lost their home or a loved one.

The monks, from different branches of Tibetan Buddhism who rarely interacted with each other, closed their ranks this time and worked together overcoming their animosities.

The government has made use of the services of the monks specially to cremate the dead with religious ceremonies. Monks who are cremating the dead also projected a higher death toll.

Both Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao who visited the quake hit areas acknowledged the work done by monks and interacted with some of them.

For rescuers hailing from the mainland Qinghai, calamity is also a new experience as they were exposed for the first time to Tibetans who are deeply spiritual by nature and have a very different food and life styles.