Hong Kong temple tells Thai tourists to stop sticking gold leaf on prayer wheel

Photo courtesy of Sanook

There has been a call for Thai tourists to stop adhering gold leaf to an ancient prayer wheel at a temple in Hong Kong. A Thai tour guide‘s Facebook post drew attention to the unusual practice, suggesting that the temple’s authorities had said it was the work of Thai visitors.

The act of sticking gold leaf to the wheel is not a custom practiced by locals, sparking confusion among the temple staff as they were unfamiliar with the Thai tradition.

Twitter user @RedSkullxxx shared images from the said Facebook post, which showed a gold leaf stuck on the ancient prayer wheel at the Hong Kong temple. The caption indicated that the temple authorities had claimed that “Thais did it.”

Temple officials have asked for this behaviour to cease. Locals in Hong Kong do not adhere gold leaf to prayer wheels, especially those that are considered antique. However, Thai tourists bring their gold leaf to attach.

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Furthermore, before sticking the gold leaf, Thai tourists do not ask for the temple’s permission, and after the wheel, they also attach the gold leaf to the Buddha statue inside the temple. The temple has never put up signs prohibiting this action, as they never expected anyone to stick gold leaf on their ancient prayer wheel.

However, upon investigation, it was found that Thai tour companies were advertising that anyone could spin the prayer wheel. If they booked a tour with their company, they could stick gold leaf on the prayer wheel for good fortune. This has raised concerns about the potential damage to the ancient artefact.

The temple’s ancient prayer wheel has become an unexpected victim of a cultural misunderstanding, with Thai tourists bringing their religious customs overseas. This situation has highlighted the need for increased cultural awareness and respect when visiting foreign countries.

“The temple’s ancient prayer wheel has become an unexpected victim of a cultural misunderstanding,” said the Thai tour guide in his Facebook post, reported Sanook.

The temple in question is yet to release an official statement. However, the incident serves as a reminder for tourists to respect local customs and to ensure that their actions do not harm historical artefacts.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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