This is a photo I cannot show without telling the story:
This is a woman we saw at the temple.
When you step inside one of the many small buildings on the grounds, this one is different. It is a simple room with monks sitting at computers behind four walls about armpit high, reminding me of a bank with tellers.
On the wall was a large poster-sign. I wish I had taken a picture.
It was a list.
A list of prayers you could buy.
Along with their prices, there were prayers for sickness, for good fortune, for a multitude of common hopes and issues, ranging from a few cents to hundreds of dollars. After picking your prayers, you told a monk, who took note, took payment, rings it up and gives you a receipt.
The price of salvation?
10 000 Tugrik.*
Then you take your receipt to another small building where a monk is sitting in a rustic room reading from prayer books, his voice droning on and on in mysterious verbatim.
When we entered the room and sat a while another family came in. After exchanging some words with the monk, they left. Our friend translated in a whisper.
“He said come back tomorrow. He’s about done for the morning. No explanation, just come back tomorrow. They need to come back earlier.”
Imagine if you were from out of town. The big temple would be a big deal.
Imagine if you had a bad foot. Temple visits are a struggle.
Imagine if you put your last few tugriks into those desperate prayers. Tomorrow would be another bus fare.
Imagine if you were praying for a sick child. Tomorrow might be too late.
Come back tomorrow.
*Ten Thousand tugrik = approximately Seven Canadian Dollars.