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Saturday, 23 February, 2002, 23:01 GMT
Buddha's finger of hope in Taiwan
Buddha's finger
Thousands greeted the arrival of the finger
Tens of thousands of Buddhists have turned out in Taiwan to welcome what is purported to be a finger of Buddha on its arrival for a month-long stay on the island.

The relic, housed in a jewelled casket, was flown in to Taipei from China, where it is normally on display at a temple in the western city of Xian.


We hope Buddha's finger could inspire friendly love and peace across the Taiwan Strait

Chinese monk I Kong
It was then driven amid tight security through chanting crowds to be displayed at a stadium in the Taiwanese capital.

Several senior Chinese Buddhists have also travelled to Taiwan to accompany the relic of Buddha, who died 2,000 years ago.

Several other relics believed to be parts of his body - including a number of teeth - are preserved in various monasteries in Asia.

Procession

The finger was housed behind a window in a miniature gold pagoda that Chinese temple guards brought out of a plane upon arriving at Taipei international airport.

Urn containing tooth shown in Thailand
Many other relics believed to belong to Buddha have gone on display in Asia

A flower-decorated float carrying the finger later paraded Taipei streets in a procession led by women in traditional long dresses and monks in yellow robes chanting scriptures.

Buddhists waving yellow flags lined the streets to welcome the finger.

Later, thousands attended a ceremony at a Taipei stadium where the finger was placed on an orchid-decorated platform for worship.

"Looking at the bone is like seeing the Buddha himself," Chinese monk I Kong said.

"We hope Buddha's finger could inspire friendly love and peace across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

Taiwan and China separated amid civil war in 1949. In recent years, many Taiwanese have visited Chinese temples to worship and to view their rich collections of Buddhist scriptures and relics.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Webb
"A moment of great significance for Taiwanese Buddhists"
See also:

30 Dec 01 | South Asia
Giant Buddhas 'to be restored'
05 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Buddha rises again
15 Mar 01 | South Asia
Afghan Buddha destruction revealed
11 Mar 01 | South Asia
Bamiyan: Wonder of the ancient world
04 May 01 | South Asia
India's 1,000 year Buddha underway
22 May 99 | Asia-Pacific
Birthday Buddha's tooth in Hong Kong
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