Bangladesh gifts Buddha hair relic to Sri Lanka

PTI, July 18, 2007

Dhaka, Bangladesh -- The small Buddhist community in Bangladesh today gifted a few strands of hair said to have belonged to Lord Buddha as a "goodwill gesture" to Sri Lanka at a special ceremony.

"Sharing of hair relics of Lord Buddha help ever-last the existing bondage of friendship between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh," said Bangladeshi Foreign affairs adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury while handing over the sacred strands, kept inside a golden-colored bronze box, to his Sri Lankan counterpart Rohita Bogollagama.

A high-profile 30-member delegation from Colombo comprising five Sri Lankan ministers and a number of monks, religious affairs adviser of the interim Bangladeshi cabinet Motiur Rahman, foreign diplomats and several hundred thousand members of Bangladesh's Buddhist community witnessed the function marked by a special Buddhist prayer.

The Supreme priest of Bangladeshi Buddhists Sangharaj Dharmasen presided over the function at the country's oldest Buddhist monastery in the south-eastern port city of Chittagong.

In return, the Sri Lankan delegation presented to Bangladesh some rare footprints and an statue of Lord Buddha as a "symbol of friendship and brotherhood."

Buddhist leaders said the strands have been kept for the last 77 years at the monastery since they were brought there by a Tibetan monk, Srimat Shaikkya Bhikkhu.

The monastery had gifted some of the sacred hair to Japan in mid 1960s, they said.