Victoria’s Dirty Little Secret
Victoria’s Secret got in hot water with Buddhists around the world in May, when the lingerie retailer offered the “Asian Floral Bikini” in its spring catalog. The skimpy two-piece ladies’ bathing suit featured brightly colored flowers . . . and pictures of the Buddha and the bodhisattva Kwan-yin yanked from the catalog, and Victoria’s Secret issued a formal apology for offending religious sentiments.

Off the Cushion, Onto The Runway
Wat Dammamongkol is best known for housing Thailand’s largest jade Buddha statue. But the temple has a lesser-known claim to fame: several years ago it became the site of an Italian fashion design school. The school, Thailand’s only internationally recognized fashion institute, came about through the work of the temple’s head monk, Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo. The eighty-four year-old abbot decided that the Thai fashion industry could benefit from the expertise of foreign designers. Students, Italian and Thai, now balance their time between meditation and working on some of the hottest trends in women’s fashion.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Monks from China’s famous Shaolin Temple, legendary birthplace of Zen Buddhism, have been touring the States recently, demonstrating their amazing physical feats that are founded in an intense regimen of meditation and physical training. At the California State Assembly, they led the morning prayer, then proceeded to perform back flips, while one monk did a headstand supported by only two fingers. Encouraged by the monks, Republican assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy repeatedly punched one of the monks in the stomach, but failed to injure him. When Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson kicked another monk in the groin, the undaunted monk retaliated by saying only, “Kick harder!”

As Big As Bhutan
The Guinness Book of World Records has had to add a new entry to its listings: the world’s largest book. Weighing in at a staggering 133 pounds, Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Kingdom is a giant tome about the tiny Buddhist country. The book is seven feet wide and five feet tall, and the sticker price is hefty, too: It is being sold on Amazon.com for $10,000 a copy. The author, MIT professor Michael Hawley, is donating the proceeds to educational programs in Bhutan.

Picky, Picky
Following complaints from irate priests at Todaiji, the majestic Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan, the Japanese government has revoked the copyright of one of the country’s odder confections: Great Buddha Boogers. The sweets, described as “snot from the nose of the Great Buddha” of Nara, are hard little brown balls patterned after the curls of hair atop the famous statue. The package they come in sports a cartoon of the Buddha picking his nose; the manufacturers unsuccessfully tried to fend off criticisms by referring to the Buddha on the product with the ultra-polite honorific “Sama.”

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