Return of the Jade Buddha

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THE Great Stupa of Universal Compassion expects to spend $400,000 on a three-day celebration to welcome home a ‘wonder of the world’.

Preparations are underway for the Illumin8 festival, marking the return of the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace. 

The five-tonne Buddha, crafted from the world’s largest discovered piece of gem-quality jade, has been travelling the globe since 2009.

More than 11 million people have seen the Buddha in the past eight years, Great Stupa chairman Ian Green said. 

He expected about 15,000 people to see the statue return to its Bendigo home.

“A lot of people are coming from overseas,” Mr Green said. 

The Jade Buddha has been hosted by more than 120 places during its time abroad, all of which have been invited to the homecoming festivities.

Mr Green expected the atmosphere would be akin to “a big reunion”. 

The first day of the festivities, May 18, will be filled with Buddhist events in various traditions. 

Mr Green said the following two evenings would be public events, with light installations leading visitors to light sculptures and performances. 

Animations will be projected onto the surface of the stupa, “a la White Night”.

A firework show is also included in the plans.

This will be a much bigger event than what we've done in the past.

Ian Green

The organising committee has applied for funding from the state government to help stage the event. 

Mr Green expected admission fees from the event, which will be ticketed, would help cover costs.

A Tibetan artist is scheduled to arrive in Bendigo at the end of the month to paint the ceiling of the stupa, which the Jade Buddha will call home.

The painting is expected to take five months.

The Buddha is presently in South Korea, where it is likely to stay until the Winter Olympics.

It’s unlikely to be the last of the statue’s travels.

Mr Green said the Buddha had received many invitations to return abroad.

Unification has been at the Buddha’s heart since the beginning.

The 18-tonne boulder from which it was carved was discovered in Canada in 2000, and brought to Mr Green’s attention in 2003. 

Worth about $1.5 million, the boulder was purchased over a number of years. 

The statue design was inspired by an Indian Buddha, and crafted in Thailand. 

Mr Green described the Jade Buddha in 2009 as “a wonder of the world”