You’re too fat, Sri Lanka tells its Buddhist monks

Featured - November 30th, 2012

Special “menus” will be issued to Buddhist devotees wanting to give offerings to monks in Sri Lanka, as they increasingly suffer from ill health due to being overweight.

“Because of their great affinity towards religious observances, most devotees offer food with high cholesterol content and the Buddhist monks have no choice but to partake of these foods all year round,” Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said, according to the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror.

The BBC reports that the ministry was drawing up the menu to combat diet related diseases such as diabetes, particularly as the monks lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle.

Tradition dictates that monks do not cook for themselves and rely on devotee donations and on some occasions they receive portions that are larger than necessary.

But that is not always the case.

Prominent Buddhist monk Maadulaawe Sobitha told the BBC Sinhala Service that “there are many monks in rural areas who have no nourishment at all. They survive on meagre rations of some rice and green leaves.”

“For thousands of years, the tradition was for the devotees to offer food for the clergy. It was up to the monks to decide what is appropriate to consume,” he added, going on to call for a system that would ensure poor monks have a square meal a day rather than “wasting resources for political gain.”