Sri Lanka bans bikinis with Buddha's image

Posted: Friday, June 18, 2004

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has banned the import of bathing suits with images of Buddha after a monk saw bikinis bearing the symbol in an advertisement.

The Buddhist monk, Kusaladhamma Thera, petitioned the Supreme Court, saying he was pained to see ads for swimsuits ''with Buddha's image on the breast and crotch areas.''

He argued that the images on swimming apparel offend the sentiments of the island nation's Buddhist majority, the Daily Mirror reported last week.

The Supreme Court will also bar the importation of candles with depictions of Buddha, it said.

Sri Lanka's powerful Buddhist monks consider themselves important guardians of state affairs and of Sinhalese culture, which they feel has come under attack by Western materialism.

About 70 percent of Sri Lanka's 19 million people are Buddhists.

Nine monks were elected to the 225-seat Parliament for the first time in the April 2 elections.

Officials in predominantly Buddhist Thailand have also criticized swimwear and sports shoes bearing Buddha's image.

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