Buddhist scriptures at risk of rain damage

by Nan Kham Kaew, DVB, May 27, 2008

Bahan, Myanmar -- Valuable scriptures held at Sasana Gonye monastery that may have been damaged in the recent cyclone remain at risk after authorities refused to open the monastery for repairs.

The roof of the monastery in Bahan township’s Six Storey pagoda compound was ripped off by Cyclone Nargis on 2 May, potentially leaving scriptures housed in the monastery’s archives open to the elements.

U Zawana, the abbot of Sasana Gonye, and lay supporters of the monastery are reportedly worried that the ongoing heavy rain could damage the scriptures, if they have not already been destroyed by the cyclone.

The monastery was sealed off by the authorities after the monk-led protests in September 2007, and no one has been allowed to go inside to assess the damage since the cyclone.

A lay follower said supporters of the abbot had offered to repair the roof but were denied permission to enter.

“The abbot’s followers sympathised with him and offered to help in any way they could,” she said.

“They asked the authorities for permission to go in but they refused to open it for them.”

The scriptures include texts prepared by the abbot’s predecessors dating back generations.

U Zawana has been staying at a relative’s house since the monastery was closed.