Playing god: Japan temple puts faith in robot priest | AFP

A 400-year-old temple in Japan is attempting to hot-wire interest in Buddhism with a robotic priest it believes will change the face of religion — despite being accused of creating a “Frankenstein’s monster.”

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Hundreds take part in Thailand’s lotus throwing festival

Thousands toss and throw lotuses onto a boat procession carrying an image of a revered monk, marking the end of the Buddhist lent in Samut Prakan, south of Bangkok. The cheerful festival originated from a riverside culture where villagers fresh-picked the finest lotuses, once abundant in the area, and pass on to those who sailed to make a merit at temple as the lent period’s ending. The lotus is a symbol of purity in Hinduism and Buddhism and incorporated into many ceremonies in Thailand.

International Aid Reaches Cyclone-Ravaged Vanuatu: VICE News Capsule, March 18

The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today: International relief agencies reach remote islands of Vanuatu days after it was ravaged by a monstrous cyclone, three imprisoned in Myanmar for insulting Buddhism, Shia fighters in southern Iraq make due with what’s in the scrapyard, and a gourmet pot market is growing inside Mexico City homes.

VANUATU
Aid Workers Reach Remote Islands Days After Cyclone
Agencies are trying to deliver critical aid supplies to the tens of thousands of people affected by the storm.

MYANMAR
Prison Time for Three Accused of Insulting Buddhism
A New Zealand bar manager and his two Burmese coworkers will spend two-and-a-half years in prison for advertising an event using an image of Buddha wearing headphones.

IRAQ
Shia Fighters Hit the Scrap Yard to Increase Battlefield Success
A small team is restoring and modifying weapons and vehicles to deliver to militias fighting the Islamic State.

MEXICO
Burgeoning Legal Weed Industries Give Rise to a Homegrown Market
Connoisseurs have formed pot clubs to replicate the highly potent strains found in U.S. states such as Colorado and Washington.

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