Nara: Ritual refreshes Great Buddha

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Monks remove dust from the Great Buddha statue at Todaiji temple in Nara.

NARA — The 15-meter-tall Great Buddha statue in Nara was cleaned for the first time in three years on Aug. 7. This is an annual purifying ritual called ominugui at Todaiji temple, but it had not been done for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After conducting a Buddhist service, which is believed to “remove the soul” of the Buddha, about 140 monks and worshippers dressed in white and wearing masks set to work. They climbed on the hands and knees of the national treasure and wiped it with cloths. Some were dusting it while suspended in a basket from the ceiling of the Great Buddha Hall. It took about two hours to purify the statue.