Strategic observation

Feature: 108 quake babies blessed by Buddha

2018-05-10 18:17:55 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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CHENGDU, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Every year around his birthday, Jiang Yuchen and his mother visit the Luohan Temple to remember the extraordinary beginning of his life.

Jiang is among 108 children born in the 1,400-year-old temple in Shifang City in southwest China's Sichuan Province, shortly after a magnitude 8 earthquake destroyed most of the local medical infrastructure on May 12, 2018.

"We spent 40 days there. The monks set up tents and bought beds and quilts for us. They and the doctors just tried to offer whatever we needed," said Zhang Guofeng, Jiang's mother.

A film about their story is expected to be screened later this year.

"The quake forced the evacuation of more than 20 expectant mothers from the city's maternity hospital," said Gui Fengchun, head of the hospital. "At the first, we moved the would-be mothers to the street, but later more and more displaced residents flocked to the street. Then, we moved them to a school, and it soon became too full."

Finally, she thought of the nearby temple and its open-air space, which could accommodate tents. "I was unsure about whether the temple would accept us. After all, blood is a taboo in the temple," Gui said.

To her surprise, Master Su Quan, abbot of the temple, did not hesitate to open the door.

"[For Buddhists] refusing to save people in peril is the biggest taboo. Compared with this, other taboos are not that important," the abbot said.

In addition to providing shelter, the monks also cooked for the guests. To ensure proper nutrition of the mothers, their families were even allowed to cook meat dishes in the temple.

The first baby was delivered by caesarean at 7:30 a.m. on May 13 on a "bed" that was put together by four stools, besides an " V pole" made from a long tree branch.

"We lacked basic equipment ... There was only one small light in the entire room," said Zhai Qiurong with the hospital. "My colleague, Dai Mingfu, held a flashlight through the surgery."

The abbot named the baby girl, as requested by her parents. The girl was nicknamed "Xiao Yi," which means "the little first."

The temple, with some 80 monks at the time, served as a temporary maternity hospital until late August that year, and more than 1,000 people sought shelter there in total.

After returning home, to express their gratitude, the mothers gave the abbot a robe made from cloth taken from clothes of each of the 108 children, .

"I love playing in the temple where I was born. I have fun here," Jiang said.