Religions coexist in villages

Updated: 2013-10-05 07:36

By Liu Xiangrui, Daqiong and Wang Huazhong (China Daily)

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In the ancient town of Yanjing, Catholicism and Tibetan Buddhism literally stand face to face.

In the Lancang River valley, Yanjing used to be an important town along the ancient Tea and Horse Road that connected Yunnan and Tibet.

The town of two villages is home to two ethnic groups, the Naxi and Tibetans.

Residents in the Upper Yanjing village are mostly Tibetans and Catholics, while those in Lower Yanjing are Naxis and Tibetan Buddhists.

Despite different ethnicities and beliefs, people in the two villages live in harmony today.

A white Buddhist pagoda stands not far from the church in Upper Yanjing - the only Catholic church in Tibet - and many Buddhists from Lower Yanjing go to circle it every day for prayers.

Residents of the two villages also have subtle connections.

There are more than a dozen Catholics in Lower Yanjing. Nearly all have origins in Upper Yanjing - some moved for marriage and some are their descendants. However, only a few of them visit the church. Most of them lead a simple religious life.

Maren is the only Catholic in her home in Lower Yanjing. The 59-year-old inherited the belief from her mother, who was from Upper Yanjing before she married her father.

For Maren, religion seems more like a filial responsibility.

"When my mother got married, she had an agreement with my father's family that at least one of their children would follow her Catholic belief. That's why I am the only Catholic among my five brothers and sisters," she explained.

Maren's mother died when she was young and there are no church members she can easily find to communicate with, so she cannot read Catholic scriptures and has limited knowledge about the teachings.

Her religious life is limited to prayers before bed. She seldom visits the church because she fears strange looks from others as she can't read the Bible. She simply sends her money to the church through other people.

"I don't need the ceremonial things. It's enough as long as I can regard myself as a Catholic until the day I die," Maren said.

Religions coexist in villages