Rare Buddha relics found 125 years ago coming to S'pore from Sri Lanka for Nov. 24-29 exhibition

A chance to see some rare relics.

Joshua Lee | November 21, 2023, 04:48 PM


If you're looking for something to do this weekend, the Rise of Asia Museum at Haw Par Villa will be displaying some rare relics from Sri Lanka's Rajaguru Sri Subuthi Temple Waskaduwa.

These are the Kapilavastu Buddha Relics and they will be in Singapore for the first time, and for a short while: Nov. 24 to 29.

The relics will be exhibited to the public from Nov. 24 to 28. There will be a closing ceremony on Nov. 29 for invited guests.

This exhibition, titled "Beyond Time: The Legacy of Buddha’s Bone Relics", is organised by the Tibetan Buddhist Centre.

Usually not allowed to be taken overseas

The relics were accorded the "AA" category of Antiquities and Art Treasures in 2015 which means that they are heavily protected and, under ordinary circumstances, cannot be taken overseas.

They are known as the Kapilavastu relics because they were recovered in 1898 from a site in Piprahwa, India, a place believed to be the ancient city of Kapilavastu.

Some Buddhist texts name Kapilavastu as the childhood home of Gautama Buddha.

It is believed that upon Buddha’s death and cremation, his ashes were distributed among eight royal clans, one of which was the Sakyas of Kapilavastu.

These relics were then enshrined within stupas, which became sites of veneration.

Profound spiritual and historical heritage

"Buddhism is one of the major religions in Singapore. This rare occasion provides a unique chance for visitors from all walks of life to experience the profound spiritual and historical heritage of the relics and the religion," said Ng Wee Nee, President of Tibetan Buddhist Centre, Singapore.

The exhibition also offers non-Buddhists a chance to understand the Buddha relics from a historical and cultural point of view.

The Kapilavastu Buddha Relics boast a fascinating history, dating back to their discovery in 1898 at the stupa site in Piprahwa, which is now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On-site activities

Aside from the exhibition, there is an array of on-site activities to take part in.

Highlights include the screening of a documentary, "Bones of the Buddha", depicting the discovery of the Kapilavastu relics and the significant parties behind it.

Visitors can offer flowers and lights, and participate in a meditative walk around the stupa. A designated area is also available for brief meditation sessions, and special blessing sessions can be conducted by a senior venerable.

The exhibition will be open to the public from 10am to 9pm daily from Nov. 24. to 28.

It will be held at Rise of Asia Museum’s Exhibition Hall at Haw Par Villa.

Visitors who are interested to attend can pre-register here: https://bone-relics.mypath.com.sg/

For more information on the relics, please visit the event's FAQ section here.

Top image credits: Tibetan Buddhist Centre.

A previous version of this article stated that the exhibition runs from Nov. 24 to 29. The organisers have since clarified that the exhibition runs until Nov. 28 for the public. The article has been updated to reflect the change.