Buddha relics from across south Asia to adorn giant statue

PTI, Nov 12, 2008

Gangtok, Sikkim (India) -- A Buddha relic is being brought from Thailand here to adorn the giant 130-foot statue of Lord Buddha coming up at Rabong in Sikkim's South district.

A group of sanghas (monks), led by a high Buddhist priest of the country, venerable Jamnian Chonsakhornteam, will bring the relic - Ringsel in Buddhist parlance - on November 24.

The relic was offered by Somdet Phra Nyanasaam Vara, the 19th supreme patriarch of the kingdom of Thailand. Rinzing Chewang, member-secretary of the statue project, known as Sakyamuni project, said the relic would be brought to Bagdogra from Kolkata and from there it would be taken to Rabong by road on the same day.

The relic, which would be housed at the newly-built Karma Thekchenling monastery at the Mane Chokerling complex in Rabong till the completion of the project, is one among relics offered by Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea.

The work on the Buddha statue started in 2006 on the occasion of the 2,550th birth anniversary of Lord Buddha to bring Rabong in the Buddha tourism circuit.

The urban development minister, D D Bhutia, under whose supervision the Sakyamuni project is coming up, said that the precious relic would draw tourists and invest the statue with significance.

According to legend, after Buddha's body was cremated at Kusinara, the fragments that remained were divided into eight portions. These were then sent to various kingdoms to be kept in stupas as per Buddhist convention.

In the third century Before Christ when King Ashoka after converting to Buddhism decided to propagate the faith throughout the world, he gathered Lord Buddha's relics and inscripted them on 84,000 stupas across Asian countries. According to Buddhist beliefs, the relics are believed to possess miraculous powers of multiplication. They show people that enlightenment is possible and also to promote good virtue.

The relics have turned into sacred substances and look like tiny pearl-like globules in arangement of colours for various parts of the body.