Sri Lanka to exhibit tooth relic of the Buddha

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2001

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) -- Sri Lanka's holiest place of Buddhist worship plans to exhibit what most Buddhists believe is a tooth relic of the founder of their religion, said the custodian of the Temple of the Tooth.

The relic of the Buddha, which is usually kept within the temple's inner sanctum and out of public view, was last shown in 1995.

''We expect this exhibition to benefit and bestow merit on the people,'' said custodian Niranjan Wijeratne.

The relic will be displayed from Sept. 22 to Oct. 7 in a golden casket to be presented by Thailand, Wijeratne said.

It will be the first exhibit of the tooth since Tamil rebels damaged the temple in a 1998 suicide bombing that killed 17.

Sri Lanka's 74 percent majority Sinhalenese are mostly Buddhist while Tamils, 18 percent of the population, are mostly Hindu. The rebels want a Tamil homeland in the north and east.

More than 63,000 people have been killed since fighting began in 1983.

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