A giant Guanyin statue in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan was given a pink face mask as a mark of prayer for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic
According to The Japan Times, the act took four workers three hours to scale and place the face mask on the 57m tall white statue of the Goddess of Mercy, also known as Kannon in Japanese.
The Buddhist goddess now wears a custom-made fabric covering, measuring 4.1m by 5.3m and weighing 35kg, over her face and mouth.
Houkokuji Aizu Betsuin temple manager Takaomi Horigane said it was the workers who came up with the idea for the face mask during a discussion on the restoration of the statue after it was damaged in an earthquake in February.
He said they plan to keep the mask on the statue until the COVID-19 situation is under control in Japan.
Footage of the workers scaling and putting the face mask on the statue was shot with a drone and shared on social media
The statue was built at the temple 33 years ago. It has a spiral staircase inside and visitors can climb up to the height of the goddess' shoulders.
The statue depicts the Goddess of Mercy holding a baby. Many locals visit the temple to pray for the safe delivery of their babies and to ask for blessings for their newborns.
Japan is currently facing its fourth wave of COVID-19 infections. As of today, 18 June, Japan recorded 779,338 cumulative COVID-19 cases.
Based on figures provided on Worldometers, the world recorded 178 million cases to date, with 3.8 million people worldwide dead from the virus.
Guanyin is known as a physical embodiment of compassion to devotees. Her name is a short form of 'Guan Shi Yin' in Chinese, meaning "observing the sounds (or cries) of the (human) world".
Devotees around the world pray to her in times of despair and fear, such as during the current coronavirus pandemic. Other than Japan and Chinese-speaking countries, the goddess is also worshipped in South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam, among others.
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