Harbin Travel

The entrances are flanked by bronze dishes of butterfat and the Harbin Travel stone lions and statues are smeared in fat by pilgrims to show their respect.

Several temple Harbin Travel -shrines containing Buddha statues are surrounded by prayer wheels, large, upright barrels painted with gold characters on red, or beaten bronze; each wheel creaks on its axis as the pilgrims walk around the shrines setting the barrels slowly spinning. Prayer wheels can be any size, and some individual ones are so large and sacred that pavilions have been built to house them.

On entering these shrines the pilgrims each grasp one of the prayer wheel’s wooden handles, drop their written prayer paper in the tray beneath the wheel, and walk around once while pushing the wheel before emerging back into the sunshine. The turning of the wheel is meant to activate their prayers, and as they revolve the big wheels make noises like the clashing of cymbals and the thunder of horse’s hooves on a baked plain. From there I tracked the pilgrim family to the Main Hall of Meditation; outside it was a line of old leather boots; devotees must pray barefoot.

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