Bone relic from Buddha arrives from mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2012, 12:00am


By coincidence or a miracle, a patch of the leaden skies covering Hong Kong cleared at the airport yesterday as a plane carrying a 2,500-year-old Buddhist relic landed, raising the spirits of followers who gathered to greet it.

The bone fragment, believed to be part of the Buddha's skull, making its first trip out of the mainland since it was discovered in Nanjing in 2008, will be on show at the Coliseum until Monday.

The organiser, the Hong Kong Buddhist Association, expects 30,000 people to visit the relic during the six-day exhibition, to mark the Buddha's birthday on Saturday. It is also one of the events being held to mark the anniversary of the handover.

More than 20 Kung Fu monks protected the bone - enshrined in a pagoda of gold, silver and other metal weighing hundreds of kilograms - while hundreds of other monks and followers travelled with the relic on the Dragonair flight. The association said it could not find any insurance for the relic as 'it was invaluable'.

The relic, believed by some followers to be a parietal bone of the Buddha, was discovered in 2008 in a crypt of the ruins of Changgan Temple, built in the Song dynasty (960-1279), and two years ago was placed in the Nanjing Qixia Temple.

The relic was driven to the Coliseum after an hour of ceremonies and flower offerings on the airport apron.

Thousands of people waited outside the Coliseum as the relic arrived in a truck painted gold. Some said they saw 'Buddhist lights' as the vehicle drove near.

Long-term believer Wong Oi-wah, 66, said she was very happy that the relic was in Hong Kong. 'I saw rosy lights as it arrived at the Coliseum. That was very magical.'

She also visited the Buddha's tooth in 1999 and finger in 2004 when they were in the city.

Another ceremony at the Coliseum was held in the evening, attended by Gyancain Norbu, the Beijingrecognised 11th Panchen Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing and venerable monks.

The Panchen Lama, also making his first trip out of the mainland, will give a speech today at the Third World Buddhist Forum. On his first trip out of the mainland, he is the highest-ranking lama after the exiled Dalai Lama, who disagrees with Beijing on his identity.