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Buddhist Monasteries in India See Rise in COVID-19 Positive Cases

Buddhist Monasteries in India See Rise in COVID-19 Positive Cases
Monastery in Rumtek near Gangtok, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Praying and living together has led to easy spread of infection among the monks in India's Buddhist monasteries

OT Staff
June 23 , 2021
02 Min Read

Buddhist monasteries in India, which have monks and apprentices in residence, are seeing a spurt in the number of COVID-19 infected patients within their fold, according to media reports. A large number of virus positive cases have been reported from many monasteries in the Himalayan states since May this year.

Earlier in the year, in March, the local administration had to declare the area around Gyuto Tantric Buddhist Monastery in Himachal Pradesh a containment zone when over 150 monks tested positive.

In May this year, several monks from the Gonjang monastery and Dharma Chakra Centre in Rumtek in Sikkim were found to be COVID-19 positive.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Buddhist monasteries in India have been hit hard by the country&#39;s deadly second Covid wave<a href="https://t.co/y20G21ELqc">https://t.co/y20G21ELqc</a> <a href="https://t.co/QDBRorAUKK">pic.twitter.com/QDBRorAUKK</a></p>&mdash; BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) <a href="https://twitter.com/BBCWorld/status/1407261248035635200?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 22, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Reports from other states have also been reported by the media.

What has been a matter of great attraction to visitors–the lifestyle of the monks–is now one of the main reasons why the monasteries are finding it difficult to contain the spread of the infection. The Buddhist monasteries are home to monks and apprentices–their number dependent on the importance and size of the monastery–who pray and study together, share accommodation and dining space. Hence if one person is affected, especially if someone is asymptomatic, it is difficult to contain the outbreak within the monastery.

Inside a monastery in Ladakh

Similar cases in other religious institutions with monks and other staff in residence cannot be ruled out too. Although public places of worship have been shut down periodically to contain the pandemic, the religious institutions have not been able to shut down because it is difficult for the monks and other staff to find an alternative accommodation.

According to media reports, the local administration where the monasteries are located are ensuring that the members eligible for the vaccine are inoculated.


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