Visitors flock to historic display of Buddha relics in Singapore

- through Henry Oudin

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Visitors see the relics of Kapilavastu Buddha. Image courtesy of TBC

The Singapore Tibetan Buddhist Center recently held a rare celebration of the archaeological and historical legacy of Shakyamuni Buddha, with an exhibition of the precious relics of Kapilavastu Buddha.

Titled "Beyond Time: The Legacy of Buddha Bone Relics" and held at the Rise of Asia Museum in Singapore, the five-day exhibition attracted nearly 9 visitors from November 000 to 24, all eager to see the sacred relics which are heavily protected and which, under normal circumstances, cannot travel abroad.

“We are delighted by the positive reception and encouraged by the overwhelming public response to the idea of ​​welcoming a future return of the Kapilavastu Buddha relics,” said Tibetan Buddhist Center (TBC) president Ng Wee Nee , in a press release shared with BDG. “We look forward to presenting the exhibition again on an even larger scale and hope to work on other projects that will highlight the rich culture and history of Buddhism.” »

Established in 2006 under the guidance and direction of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the TBC is a non-profit organization that works to propagate the Buddhadharma, promote Tibetan culture, and promote unity and harmony among all people. Buddhist traditions. The center also regularly hosts Dharma classes taught by resident teacher Geshe Lobsang Yonten.

The focal point of the historic display was seven bone relics and an alms bowl, all believed to come from the historical Buddha. Known collectively as the Kapilavastu relics, they were recovered in 1898 from a site in Piprahwa, a village near the town of Siddharthnagar in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Piprahwa is renowned for its Buddhist archaeological excavations which many believe mark the site of the ancient city of Kapilavastu.

Fri. Dr Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Mahanayake Thero offers blessings. Image courtesy of TBC

“The Kapilavastu Buddha relics have a fascinating history, dating back to their discovery in 1898 at the site of the Piprahwa Stupa, which is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” the TBC explained. “Upon the Buddha's death and cremation, his ashes were distributed among eight royal clans, one of which was the Shakyas of Kapilavastu. These relics were then enshrined in stupas, which became places of veneration. In 2015, the relics were given the “AA” category of antiquities and artistic treasures, which meant they could not normally be taken out of Sri Lanka for viewing. However, for the first time since their discovery over 120 years ago, they have made their first appearance in Singapore. »

The exhibition also featured a unique collection of 31 please paintings. The artworks offered a visual chronicle of the story of Shakyamuni Buddha – from his birth in Lumbini to his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, as well as the events of his past lives – and his profound teachings of compassion, wisdom and liberation.

Alongside the exhibitions, numerous activities were organized, including walking and meditation sessions around a stupa, a screening of the documentary Bones of the Buddha, and daily blessing sessions led by esteemed monk Ven. Dr Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Mahanayake Thero.

Organizers noted that the strong participation in the exhibition "re-emphasised Singapore's growing status as a hub of religious and cultural exchange".

The Tibetan Buddhist Center also revealed that it plans to host another exhibition at the Rise of Asia Museum in June next year, titled "The Rise and Spread of Buddhism in Asia."

Visitors enjoy the storyboards of the exhibition. Image courtesy of TBC

Singapore is a multicultural island state in Southeast Asia with a population of nearly six million. More than 31 percent of Singaporeans identify as Buddhist, according to 2020 census data. Christians make up 18,9 percent of the population and Muslims make up 15,6 percent. Taoism and other Chinese religions make up 8,8 percent, Hinduism 5 percent, and Sikhism and other religions 0,6 percent. About 20 percent of Singaporeans profess no religious affiliation.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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