Keeping Tradition: Shaolin Monks Pay Respects and Sweep the Pagoda Forest at the Winter Clothing Festival

Publish Date:2023-11-14

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As a country of etiquette, China has always attached great importance to the tradition of sacrificing patriarchs, predecessors and ancients since ancient times. The Winter Clothing Festival is one of important Chinese sacrificial culture. Its time is the first day of the 10th lunar month each year. One important custom of the festival is to send winter clothes to deceased ancestors. On the festival day, people worship ancestors’ tomb and burn five-color paper in front of ancestors’ tomb. To express feeling of missing to deceased ancestors is the heritage of traditional culture and etiquette through the Winter Clothing Festival.

Shaolin Temple is a descendant temple following the patriarchal clan system. Patriarchs of generations make important contributions to the heritage and development of Shaolin Temple. The Pagoda Forest of Shaolin Temple is the existing largest pagoda forest in China. There have been more than 200 eminent monks of Shaolin Temple resting here in peace. Sacrificing patriarchs is the tradition that Shaolin Temple has kept for thousands of years, and also the concrete reflection of the sinicization of Buddhism. Worshiping ancestors in the Pagoda Forest carries rich cultural connotation, and continues the origin and heritage of culture. Gratitude for ancestors, inheriting old doctrines, remarking ancestral virtues and passing family tradition on, are Shaolin monks’ original aspiration.

November 13 in 2023 or the first day of the 10th lunar month is the yearly Winter Clothing Festival. Shaolin monks did their morning reciting, chanting and blessing at the hall at 5: 30 on the morning. Then monks went toward the Pagoda Forest with a chill, chanting, sacrificing and burning five-color paper to worship patriarchs of generations. The event was presided over by master Yongqian, chief monk of Shaolin Temple.


After the ceremony of worshiping and sweeping, Shaolin monks took a group photo in front of the Pagoda Forest of Shaolin Temple. (Edited by Kongming and pictures from Shaolin Temple)

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