Bangladesh to donate Buddha hair relic to Sri Lanka

DHAKA, July 15, 2007 (AFP) – The small Buddhist community in Bangladesh plans to donate a few strands of a lock of hair said to have come from the Buddha to Sri Lanka as a goodwill gesture, officials said Sunday.

Three cabinet ministers from majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka along with religious leaders are scheduled to arrive in the Bangladeshi capital Tuesday to collect the sacred relic, foreign ministry spokesman Nazmul Quanine said.

The lock of hair, kept under tight security at a Buddhist monastery in the southeastern port city of Chittagong, has been shared with other Buddhist countries such as Thailand and Japan, Bangladesh Buddhist Association president Ajit Ranjan Barua said.

“The Sri Lankan government has again made the request for the sacred hair through the government. We have agreed to donate part of this sacred hair as a gesture of goodwill to our Sri Lankan brothers,” Barua said.

A Tibetan monk brought the hair relic to Bangladesh in the 1930s, Barua said.

On the Buddha’s birthday in May the lock of hair is shown to the faithful. Buddhism is followed by around one million people in Bangladesh where the majority of the 144 million population is Muslim.