Everyone knows that rubbing Buddha’s enormous flabby stomach brings good fortune and prosperity. Representing happiness, good luck and abundance, sculptures of the jolly Laughing Buddha can be found wherever the great religion of Buddhism is practiced. Every day, uncounted millions of needy hands caress the deity’s big pot belly.
Few remember, however, the origin of this very strange custom.
Over a thousand years ago, an eccentric Zen monk with a dirty grin was happiest while participating in a novel ancient perversion. Stomach kissing became popular when the future celestial Buddha discovered that his admirers enjoyed sampling the salty taste of his holiness. Laying their heads against the stomach of the benevolent monk, they’d steal a quick kiss, or lick, prompting a burst of laughter from the good-natured fellow.
Laughing Buddha enjoyed being worshiped in this way so much that he instructed everyone in his presence to lick a sacred bulge hidden by the disgusting folds of his lower stomach. But his admirers crowded around in such numbers that all they could manage was to give the monk a quick stroke with their hand.