Buddha relic likely to displayed at state museum

The Indian, Express, Aug 16, 2012

New Delhi, India -- A bone relic, believed to be a tooth of Lord Buddha, kept in the strong room of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) office here since 1985, is likely to be displayed at the state museum soon, Odisha Tourism minister Maheswar Mohanty said.

"ASI authorities have assured us that they will hand over the bone relic to the state government soon," Mohanty said

The relic, considered sacred for Buddhist followers, was unearthed during an ASI excavation at Lalitgiri, a Buddhist site in Jajpur, in 1985.

"We first found a stone pot during excavation. When we opened it, a silver cup was found and finally the bone relic was seen in a gold cover," an ASI official said.

When the state government attempted to collect the relic from the ASI in 1985, it was opposed by some political leaders of Jajpur district.

While the leaders demanded that the relic be housed at Lalitgiri museum, the ASI refused to hand it over to them on security reason.

Meanwhile, Mohanty motivated the Jajpur leaders and got their support to keep the relic at the state Museum here.

"I took one MP, who had earlier opposed the transfer of the relic to the state government, along with me to convince the ASI authorities at Delhi," the minister said.

"The relic will initially be displayed at the state museum and later shifted to Lalitgiri, the place from where it was discovered," Mohanty said.

Meanwhile, the state government has engaged experts to design the box in which the relic would be kept for public viewing. "We are also not ignoring the security aspect

of the relic at the meuseum here," the minister said.

Stating that objective of displaying the relic at the state museum here was to attract Buddihist tourists to the state, the minister said the state government was keen

on bringing the Buddihist special train to the city.

"The state government has requested the Railways to extend the route of the Mahaparinirvan Express till Odisha so that more tourists can visit the Buddhist circuits in the state," he said.