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Sacred relic of Buddha featured in Hong Kong
By Ma Lie (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-25 22:27

The chartered plane carrying the sacred finger bone relic of Sakyamuni Buddha took off from Xi'an Xianyang International Airport Tuesday morning for a 10-day exhibition in Hong Kong starting Wednesday.

After a farewell ceremony attended by thousands of pious Buddhists, the sacred relic left home with a 75-person welcome delegation from Hong Kong, a 72-person escort delegation and a 30-person guard group from the mainland.

"This is a great event in Chinese cultural history and will evoke enormous repercussions in the mainland and Hong Kong, as well as in the Southeast Asia and other parts of the world," said Master Xue Cheng, chief monk of the Famen Temple and deputy head of the escort delegation.

The exhibition of the holy relic, a unique cultural asset and one of Chinese greatest national treasures, will expand the Buddhist themes of kindness and wisdom, and encourage peace, compassion and unity of the entire nation, Xue Cheng said.

The relic, worshipped by Buddhists around the world, is a part of Buddha's remains that were preserved after he achieved nirvana and was cremated, and it is the only finger bone relic of Sakyamuni in the world.

Sakyamuni, born in BC 565 and died in BC 485, was the founder of Buddhism. His remains were sent to many places in the world as holy relic for Buddhists to worship after his death. And Famen Temple was built some 1,500 years ago to house the sacred relic, according to historical records.

Since then, the relic had been worshipped by emperors of past dynasties and Buddhists in China, and the Famen Temple which is located in Shaanxi Province in Northwest China, became the holy land of Buddhism.

In AD 874, the holy relic was sealed in a crypt under a 47-metre high tower, and in April, 1987, Chinese archaeologists discovered the relic when they cleared up the foundation of the collapsed ancient tower.

The discovery made a great stir in the world and in the past 16 years, millions of Buddhists from home and abroad came to the Famen Temple to worship the relic.

In February, 2002, the sacred relic went to Taiwan for a 37-day exhibition and attracted some five million worshipers across the island province.

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