Veracity of Myanmar 'Buddha hair sarira' in Vietnam unclear

By Viet Tuan, Le Tan   December 30, 2023 | 01:59 am PT
Veracity of Myanmar 'Buddha hair sarira' in Vietnam unclear
The object that is called the "Buddha hair sarira" at the Ba Vang Pagoda in Quang Ninh, December 2023. Photo courtesy of the pagoda
The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha has been asked to verify the origin of the so-called "Buddha hair sarira" that drew thousands of worshipers to a pagoda recently.

The Government Committee for Religious Affairs on Friday said there have been reports of the Ba Vang Pagoda in the northern province of Quang Ninh exhibiting the so-called "Buddha hair sarira", garnering attention from tens of thousands of Buddhists and people alike. Many have come to the pagoda to perform ceremonies and rituals after learning about the object's presence at the site.

As such, the committee has requested the Sangha to verify the origin of the object, as well as instructing Quang Ninh's Buddhism authorities to "correct activities that are not appropriate with Buddhist traditions."

If violations are found, individuals and organizations must be dealt with in accordance with Buddhism regulations in Vietnam, the committee added.

The committee has also asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to request the Quang Ninh People's Committee to verify reports that the Ba Vang Pagoda allowed people to worship the so-called "Buddha hair sarira."

Quang Ninh needs to clarify whether such activities abide by the laws regarding "religious activities with foreign factors," and to deal with violations if they exist.

Nguyen Dang Kien, head of the religion committee of the Quang Ninh Department of Home Affairs, said units visited the pagoda on Thursday to discuss matters regarding the "Buddha hair sarira."

A representative of the Ba Vang Pagoda said that during a visit to Buddhist relic sites in Myanmar this month, Buddhists from the pagoda observed the "Buddhist hair sarira" at the Parami Monastery and the Parami International Buddhist Sarari Museum.

Monks at the Ba Vang Pagoda then invited U Wepulla, the head monk of the Parami monastery, along with other monks from Myanmar, to attend a Buddhist ceremony and bring the "Buddhist hair sarira" to Vietnam.

"The pagoda said the sarira was brought to the Ba Vang Pagoda on Dec. 22, and was brought back to Myanmar on Dec. 27," Kien said, adding that whether the sarira is real or not cannot be verified at the moment.

Reports from the Ba Vang Pagoda said tens of thousands of people came to the site to worship and perform other religious ceremonies on the object.

"This is one of eight strands of hair that the Buddha plucked from his head, which were given to two merchants from Myanmar over 2,600 years ago," the Ba Vang website read.

Ba Vang Pagoda made the news in 2019 for organizing speeches about "ghosts" and "hauntings." The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha later concluded that the pagoda has violated the Sangha's charter and harmed the Sangha's reputation.

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