Because some lost souls did not lead good lives, the nuns explained, they are agonizingly stuck between this life and the next. So each night, at precisely 8:30, the nuns take turns striking a large gong with a wooden mallet and reciting a “hell-breaking mantra” to release them from their pain.
“When they hear the bell, they get peaceful,” Ms. Sun said.
A tenet of Buddhism is not to kill animals, and sometimes local devotees request that their donations be used to free caged birds or animals. “Everybody likes freedom,” she said. “Nobody wants to be killed.”