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Buddha's Urn Moved to New Cambodia Shrine

December 20, 2002|From Associated Press

OUDONG, Cambodia — Robed monks and hundreds of thousands of worshippers made a procession through the countryside Thursday to transfer the fabled remains of Buddha from a noisy neighborhood in the capital, Phnom Penh, to a new, $4.5-million shrine.

A golden urn containing ashes, bones and teeth was carried in a float decorated as a giant legendary golden bird to the dome-shaped shrine, or stupa, on a hilltop in Oudong, 30 miles north of the capital. The town was Cambodia's capital from the 17th to the 19th century.

King Norodom Sihanouk then carried the urn up the 425 steps to the shrine to place the relics in their new home.

He said in a speech that the site was chosen on the advice of astrologers, who have determined that it possesses "good luck character."

Monks chanted blessings, and worshippers held incense sticks and lotus flowers.

Police officials estimated that nearly 1 million of Cambodia's 11 million people joined the procession. About 95% of Cambodians are Buddhists.

The route to Oudong was so clogged that many people had to abandon the main road to walk across rice paddies.

The procession was the culmination of a weeklong prayer session at the site where the remains had been kept since 1957, when they arrived from Sri Lanka.

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