Buddha relics may be fake, says association

The Star, April 16, 2008

PENANG, Malaysia -- The authenticity of Buddha relics to be exhibited in Penang starting on Friday has come under question.

Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) president Ven Jit Heng said the association was, therefore, not in favour of the three-day ”Nine Countries Genuine Buddha Relics Exhibition” to be held at the Che Hoon Khor Uplifting Society.

“Buddha relics are the remains of Buddha and are sacred treasures which are revered and respected by Buddhist devotees,” Ven Jit Heng, who is also the abbot of Kek Lok Si temple, told a press conference here yesterday.

Temples, he said, would have to spend more than RM10mil on security and transportation to bring in these relics.

Ven Wimala, the deputy chief of Myanmar temples in Malaysia, said Buddha relics were sacred objects and should not be sold or used for fund-raising or commercial projects.

Penang Thai Sangha Governor chief Ven Pra Kru Panyafasa Nurak said many groups of people had held similar exhibitions for commercial purposes in several countries, including Malaysia.

Exhibition organising committee chairman Angie Chan said that although there was no certificate by certified archaeologists, there were letters of certification by the Thailand Chief Monk from Wat Arun in Bangkok.

She said the letters stated that the Thailand Chief Monk had received the relics for Wat Arun for the Thai King’s 80th birthday celebration.

She said the relics were exhibited at Wat Arun for 80 days from Dec 5, 2006, and exhibited all around Bangkok for a year.

She said donations collected would go to local charity organisations Pure Lotus, Jubilee Perak Old Folks Home and the Penang Cheshire Home, and to the Wat Arun Building Fund and to Loinanglei, a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand.