Nothing like a religious faux pas
About 20 minutes into the chanting, the oldest monk rose from the couch and (still chanting) began to rummage in the cabinet below the altar. He opened a small bottle and went straight for Brian, pouring a few drops of what looked like rosewater into his hand. As he came towards me, I looked over to see what Brian was doing.
Molly, our Beijing guide, leaned over to Brian and said, "Drink it!"
Brian looked at her like she'd gone mad. "Drink it!" Molly insisted. As he raised his palm to his lips, I turned back to the monk in time to see him motion towards my forehead. Although he had enough left over to splash himself, Brian said that the rosewater tasted just like he thinks the Ganges river looks. At least the monk was highly amused. But after viewing the videotape I find that the monk does motion towards his mouth before gesturing towards the forehead. I guess I was meant to drink, too.
The monk then went back to the cabinet and found a pair of white sashes, which he placed upon each of us. No slurping necessary, thanks.