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Buddha Toilet In France Causes International Fracas

A small hotel in the Burgundy region of eastern France did what legions of Pier 1 and World Market shoppers have done and used the image of Buddha for decorating purposes, devoting one of its individually themed rooms to the spiritual figure. And they found out that the motif isn't so innocent when an embassy contacted the management to complain, according to the International Herald Tribune.

The biggest problem was that Moulin de Broaille, the hotel, extended the image to the room's toilet seat, a placement that is offensive to many Buddhists. A Bangkok newspaper reported that followers in Thailand were "enraged" and wanted Buddha dethroned.

The French embassy in Bangkok and Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs became involved after a group, called Knowing Buddha, fielded complaints. The group works to educate the rest of the world that using the god's image flippantly isn't just inconsiderate, but "tramples on the Buddhist's heart." Its Facebook page posts images of "overseas disrespectful cases," including portable toilets in the Netherlands and skateboards in the U.S.

In addition to associating Buddha with bathrooms, the easiest way to misstep is to place the image on or near the ground, especially where someone could walk on it. House slippers, doormats, and skateboards have drawn Knowing Buddha's reprimand. Wearing the image on the lower half of the body, as on a skirt, is also a no-no. Towels, dinner plates, napkins, toys, furniture, tattoos, bars named after Buddha and Buddha-head soap are other offensive treatments.

The group responds by educating the offender on why Buddhists consider the image rude, and encourages its followers to rectify the situation by, when possible, elevating the Buddha image to a spot above eye level.

If you need an alternative exotic Eastern motif to a Buddha statue that you have no intention of meditating before, ever, the gorgeously graphic letters of the Thai alphabet, as seen on Knowing Buddha's Facebook page, should keep you off your embassy's radar.

[Photo credit: Knowing Buddha]

Filed under: Activism, Asia, Europe, Thailand, France, Hotels and Accommodations, News

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