In a Buddhist temple in Thailand, monks and volunteers are making COVID-19 face masks out of recycled plastic. The monks are blessing the masks with sacred prayers and scriptures, “to end all suffering caused by the coronavirus around the world.”
Thailand has one of the most significant numbers of confirmed cases in Southeast Asia, with 1,771 confirmed cases and twelve deaths as of 12:37, April 1, in a pandemic that has killed over 42,300 globally.
Wat Chak Daeng temple is well-known for its environmentally conscious campaign led by its abbot, the temple’s administrator, that makes robes from 15 tons of plastic bottles it receives each month. The monks also collect bottles from a nearby river. The temple clothes all of their monks with these recycled orange robes and other temples across Thailand have also made orders for their eco-friendly robes. Around fifteen bottles are needed to make a 2-meter-long cloth for one monk robe.
However, as the coronavirus threat grows and the numbers of people suffering rise, the monks are turning to their Buddhist faith in a bid to help people and to contain the disease. Abbot Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro, one of the monks in charge at the temple, started pivoting the production to making face masks to help protect the people.
The masks include an extra filter layer sewn on the inner lining to shield users from potentially infected spray droplets. Wat Chak Daeng’s “talisman master” writes a Buddhist prayer on the mask, that reads: “To know the problem is to find a way to end the suffering”.
Buddhists believe that by “finding the source of one’s troubles, sets one on a path towards enlightenment.” However, Abbot Pranom admits that the prayer won’t work for those who don’t believe in it. “For those who don’t believe in this kind of thing, it won’t make any difference,” he added.
Meanwhile, Buddhist monks in Myanmar are also praying to protect their nation. Teams of monks sprinkled “holy water” over the ancient city of Bagan from hot air balloons.