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Mongols choosing a Lama

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When a Dalai-lama dies, search is made for the new one. Prayers are said in all the lamaseries, processions are made, incense is burned. Even the common people everywhere pray. There are certain signs by which a baby shows that the spirit of a lama has entered him. All parents who think their baby the one send word to Lhassa and bring their babies there. All are carefully examined, and the three 86who best show the signs of being Buddha are taken. After fasting for six days, the priests who decide the matter take a golden urn containing three little fish of gold, upon each of which is engraved the name of one of the three babies. The urn is shaken and one of the fish is drawn. The baby whose name is engraved on it becomes the Dalai-lama. To the unlucky babies before they are sent home a present of five hundred ounces of silver is given.

Strange Peoples
by Frederick Starr
Published in 1901
Available as a free download from gutenberg.org