A driving test center in Hunan province has been forced to push back its grand opening after video leaked online showing Buddhist monks blessing the center’s new vehicles.
Footage from the ceremony in the city of Hengyang shows five monks bowing and chanting around an altar placed in front of the center’s fleet of new cars. About a dozen people can be seen watching the ritual, some of whom are dressed in uniform.
The video quickly caught the attention of Chinese netizens who questioned whether these uniformed officers were cops. China is an atheistic state where Communist Party officials are not allowed to practice religion and religious ceremonies are not permitted at public facilities.
Local police have since stepped forward to say that they had no knowledge of the Buddhist ceremony and that none of their officers were in attendance. Instead, those dressed in uniform were either driving test center workers or security guards.
The driving test center is a public facility, but was built with private investment. Police explained that a private shareholder had contracted the monks to come and bless the site, failing to tell his partners or the authorities about the arrangement.
Because of the ceremony, the center’s grand opening has been delayed indefinitely while police investigate.
Earlier this year, a similar incident occurred in Gansu province with video leaking of Daoist priests slaughtering a lamb in a ceremony aimed at “driving away evil spirits” from a new nuclear power plant project. Two scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences were later suspended because they didn’t try to stop the ritual.
But hey, this all could have been much worse. Last December, a Hunan man was filmed blessing his new Volkswagen SUV with a “blood sacrifice” in which he beat a dog to death before dragging its lifeless body around the car, making sure that some blood was sprinkled on each part of the vehicle.