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Buddha relics enshrined at Chinese temple

Relics believed to be part of the skull of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, found three years ago, were enshrined on Saturday at the Qixia Temple in Jiangsu province in China.

The relics were sent to the country from India by Emperor Ashoka and buried beneath a Chinese temple over 1,000 years ago.

The casket, in which the relics known as sarirars (parts of the body of Buddha) were preserved in two different boxes, was opened amid chanting by the monks.

The casket, containing a small-size stupa of Emperor Ashoka in which the relics were preserved, is the largest and finest ever found in China.

“Its complicated techniques are rarely seen as it was made 1,000 years ago” and it was discovered during excavations of the temple three years ago, according to one Buddhist scholar.

The casket made of gold, silver and sandalwood was found among scattered objects in an underground chamber. The relics were kept carefully in a small box made of gold, which also contained a bottle of perfume.

According to Buddhist scriptures, Emperor Ashoka collected all of Buddha's's sarira and stored them in pagoda-shaped shrines, before sending them to different parts of the world.

China is believed to have received 19 of them. Search is on for the rest. These caskets were not opened fearing bad luck.

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