Famen Temple completing pagoda to house Buddha's finger bone

Xinhua, March 29, 2009

WUXI, Jiangsu (China) -- The Famen Temple in China's northwestern Shaanxi Province will finish building a pagoda in May to house a special relic, a fragment of Buddha's finger bone, an official with the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) said Sunday.

Construction started in 2005, Xu Yuanjie told a Buddhist forum here, and a grand ceremony would be held in May to mark the enshrinement of the sarira, or remains.

Sarira, remains from the cremation of a Buddha or a saintly monk, are regarded as treasured Buddhist relics.

The finger bone sarira was found in a 1,000-year-old underground hall in the Famen Temple in 1987 together with 2,000 relics. It was confirmed to be the middle finger of the left hand of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.

Since then, the temple, 118 kilometers from the provincial capital of Xi'an, has become a holy place for Buddhists from around the world.

According to the provincial tourism bureau, the temple has received about 10 million visitors over the past 20 years.