India to gift Buddha statue to Lanka

by Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, December 21, 2010

Kandy, Sri Lanka -- India will gift a 16-feet high Buddha statue to Sri Lanka to be installed at the Sri Dalada Maligawa temple in the central Lankan town of Kandy. The Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is among the holiest of Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka, and the Buddha statue will be installed at the entrance of the International Buddhist Museum complex of the temple.

The statue is being installed to mark the 2600th year of the Buddha attaining enlightenment and the occasion will be celebrated by joint activities between the two countries.

Buddhism is the overwhelmingly important religion in the country and it is decreed by the Constitution to be given precedence over all other religions.

"The Sarnath Buddha idol is an exquisite sculpture based on the famous 5th Century Gupta Period idol from Sarnath, where Buddha preached his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The idol in the Dharmachakra pravartana mudra (turning the wheel of law) and its pedestal will be carved out of a single piece of beige-colored Chunar sandstone to be sourced from Mirzapur (near Varanasi, India)," the High Commission of India said in a statement.

The statement added that an expert appointed by the National Museum of India is working on putting together Indian Buddhist artifacts that portray the Buddhist art, culture and heritage of India in its entirety. The process of identifying the important statutes/artifacts related to Buddhism in India has started and the fabrication of replicas is being undertaken. An International Buddhist Conference will also be organized in Kandy early next year (before end March) with the support of the Indian Council of Cultural relations (ICCR).