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Hong Kong ... ...
    Thousands flock to worship sacred relic
Alfons Chan
2004-05-27 06:50

Thousands flocked to pay their respects to the Buddha finger bone relic yesterday after a grand ceremony opened the 10-day public exhibition in the territory.

More than 3,000 people, including visitors from the mainland, queued in an orderly fashion, before gathering at the Grand Hall of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to catch a glimpse of the sacred artefact.

The opening ceremony of the "Reverence and Blessing of the Buddha Finger Relic" began in the morning to the sound of the national anthem, followed by solemn Buddhist chanting and Buddha-bathing rituals.

Chairman of Hong Kong Buddhist Association Kok Kwong, who hosted the ceremony, said those who worship the relic in person are likened to meeting the Buddha himself, and will be filled with his benevolence and wisdom.

The arrival of the relic will bring harmony and prosperity to the territory, while dispelling conflicts and discord, he said.

The ceremony was attended by Vice-Chairperson of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Liu Yandong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and other officials.

Tung expressed gratitude on behalf of Hong Kong people for the honour bestowed on the city in being able to exhibit the Buddhist treasures.

Local Buddhist followers and, indeed, all citizens are privileged to have this rare opportunity to see such sacred and precious assets, Tung said.

"Today's welcoming ceremony for the relic and other treasures is not only a gala event for the Buddhist community, but also a good deed advocating peace, virtues and social harmony in Hong Kong," he added.

Liu told the press after the ceremony that the veneration and display of the "sarira" and 20 other top class cultural relics indicated the central government's respect and care for Hong Kong's Buddhist community and Hong Kong people.

She said the exhibited national treasures represented China's long history and splendid culture and she believed that every Chinese person would be proud of the cultural relics.

Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho said the exhibition of the Buddhist relic and other national treasures will promote tourism and cultural exchanges.

The exhibition of the finger bone, along with 20 other Buddhist treasures, is expected to attract more than 600,000 worshippers during the 10-day event.

The finger bone relic was flown into Hong Kong on Tuesday.

It is the third time that the relic has been publicly displayed since it was unearthed at the Famen Temple in Xi'an in 1987.

(HK Edition 05/27/2004 page2)