RITUAL REFRESHES the BUDDHA: After conducting a Buddhist service on Aug. 7, about 140 monks and worshippers dressed in white and masked, cleaned the Great Buddha statue at Todaiji temple in Nara, Japan. Some of the cleaners climbed on the hands and knees of the national treasure and wiped it with cloths. Others dusted it while suspended in a basket from the ceiling of the Great Buddha Hall. The task took about two hours. The 50-foot Great Buddha was cleaned for the first time in three years in what is usually an annual purifying ritual called ominugui. The ritual had been canceled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.