With the popularity of temple tourism, cultural and creative products as well as religious items are in short supply. The 18-bead bracelet from Lingyin Temple, the fragrant ash and glass bracelet from Yonghe Temple, and the mother money from Caishen Temple have become popular must-have items among young people.
Among them, the most notable is the Yonghe Temple bracelet. During the May Day holiday, Yonghe Temple announced that it would receive 20,000 visitors by appointment. The reservation data on April 29th showed that all tickets before May 3rd were fully booked. On Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), the hashtag #YongheTempleBracelet# has reached 140 million views, with tens of thousands of notes including style introductions, purchasing processes, personal experiences, and proxy purchasing.
The term “proxy purchasing” mainly refers to people who are unable to visit the temple in person but want someone to obtain religious items such as bracelets and pendants on their behalf. Beijing resident Da Lei is one of those “proxies” who specializes in Yonghe Temple. He had worked in the internet industry for over ten years but decided to quit due to his poor health caused by long hours sitting at a desk. In the summer of 2022, when the 18-bead bracelet from Lingyin Temple became popular, Da Lei took notice. Starting from September, he began his proxy purchasing business for religious items from Yonghe Temple.
Da Lei primarily takes orders through social media platforms. In addition to proxy purchasing religious items, he also assists clients with prayer requests, making vows, and offering incense. He adds a fee of 30 to 50 yuan on top of the official price of each item, which includes the cost of the Yonghe Temple ticket and the delivery fee by SF Express. Around 9 o’clock each day, Da Lei joins the queue at the religious item distribution area of Yonghe Temple. There are three distribution areas, and they are always crowded. The waiting time is around 2 to 3 hours, and it is even longer on weekends and holidays. After obtaining the religious items, Da Lei needs to go to the consecration room to have them blessed by the monks.
After leaving Yonghe Temple around three or four o’clock in the afternoon, Da Lei immediately returns to count and ship the orders. During the interview, he constantly checks his phone, afraid of missing any messages from clients. For Da Lei, it’s clear that his business has been better in the past six months compared to the previous year. On the busiest day, he had requests for thirty to forty bracelets. He has also accumulated nearly 20% of repeat customers, with one client requesting his help to purchase new bracelet styles every two weeks.
Unlike Da Lei, Wang Changjun has his own live-streaming e-commerce operation team, which is responsible for obtaining religious items, hosting live broadcasts, and managing operations. Riding the wave of the temple economy and driven by his love for Tibetan Buddhism culture, Wang Changjun and his colleagues switched their live-streaming products to Yonghe Temple bracelets two months ago. They live-stream for four to five hours every day, with the best sales day reaching over a hundred transactions.
Yonghe Temple bracelets generally cost over 200 yuan, with different price ranges such as 300-500 yuan, 800-900 yuan, and over 1000 yuan. The most popular among Yonghe Temple bracelets is the fragrant ash and glass series, with a basic model priced at 380 yuan. This series is made with ash from the temple’s incense burners and comes in five different colors, representing different meanings.