Bhubaneswar, Feb. 6: Those with a keen interest in history and the rich heritage of the state have reason to smile.
A Buddha tooth relic excavated from a major Buddhist site in Odisha has finally been opened to public viewing for the first time in the state.
The relic has been lying in a strong room of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for 27 years.
Discovered during excavations under the Mahastupa at Lalitgiri in 1985, the state tourism and culture department received the permission from ASI last year to make arrangements for temporarily exhibiting the relic to the public.
The state culture and tourism department has been exhibiting the relic at the State Museum from February 1. The display will continue till Thursday.
A rare and precious find, the relic was excavated by the ASI, Bhubaneswar Circle, in 1985. It was found preserved inside three caskets. The caskets, one inside another, were designed in the form of votive stupas and made of two separate pieces of stone.
In the lower part of the casket, a groove had been made to accommodate a traditional steatite casket, which carried a silver casket, within which was found a gold casket.
At the present exhibition, the three caskets and the corporal relics in the form of charred bone have been displayed. Another similar relic, also preserved in similar caskets and found under the same Mahastupa at Lalitgiri, has also been on display at the auditorium of the State Museum. This second relic preserved in a set of caskets is a charred bone covered with gold foil.
“Since the ASI is yet to build a permanent museum at Lalitgiri to house these rare relics, we organised this weeklong exhibition so that people who are interested in viewing them can do so. We have made adequate security arrangements to ensure the security of these relics,” said Ashok Tripathy, secretary of the state culture and tourism and culture department.
Delegates from all over the world, who were here for the International Buddhist Conference organised last week at Udayagiri, also viewed the relics. Earlier, the relic was sent to ASI, Delhi, as part of an exhibition of ancient relics. Before that exhibition, special arrangements were made in Bhubaneswar for dignitaries from Bhutan and Thailand to view them on two occasions.
“We are glad that the visitors for the Buddhist conference got a chance to see the relics. They were thrilled to see such ancient relics related to Buddhism. Also, we are find that there is great enthusiasm among the city residents and tourists to view them,” said Tripathy.
“The relics could be exhibited at the Kalinga Buddha Vihar. Or, there should be arrangements like this exhibition here at the museum for people to get a chance to view these beautiful relics. These ancient relics are a thing of pride for us. They show off our state’s rich heritage,” said Bibhudatta Mohanty, a visitor.