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16 July 2012

New Buddhist Shrine to Erect in Tuva

Irina Kachan, the Plus Inform. Translated by Emina Kyzyl-ool

New Buddhist Shrine to Erect in TuvaThere is no end of miracles in Chaa-Khol district, just as throughout the entire republic. However, yet another place worth seeing will emerge around this area very soon. It is already being there. If you go from Chaa-Khol village towards the Shagonar water basin, you can see through the split of one of the rocks a large grayish niche. Its’ contours resemble Buddhist niche closely. It is not the old and well-known Buddhist shrine with ancient Buddha rock engraving, which is, on the contrary, located deep down and constantly gets flooded by waters of the artificial sea. This is entirely new creation – a new rock-cut Buddhist shrine, where the works have launched.

The projects of saving the ancient bas-relief have been discussed for a long time, and eventually only three of them remained: to cut it out of the rock and to place it, for instance, in museum or temple; to imbed it in clear plastic; to make a copy and sanctify it. As a result, the third option has been chosen.

The Minister of Education and Science of Tuva, Doctor of Letters, Buddhist Kaadyr-ool Bicheldey has started implementing the project. The idea, as he says, belongs to His Holiness Dalai Lama XIV. During his visit to Tuva in 1992, His Holiness held a prayer on the mountain Khayirakan and granted his blessing to this place. The Dalai Lama was told about the ancient shrine and its gradual destruction. His Holiness suggested then that in the cases, when it is impossible to save the original shrine, it can be found another place and created its’ copy, with the only condition - it should be a similar mountain that can be observed from the original sacred place. His Holiness prayed looking towards the mountain, the very point where now stone-cutting masters work on the new project.

Nevertheless, the realization idea belongs to Kaadyr-ool Bicheldey. He acts neither as a Minister, nor as a scientist and not even as a religious person within this project. Mr. Bicheldey aims to contribute to saving the cultural and historical heritage of Tuvan nation; he acts as a Tuvan citizen.

The new shrine is being erected directly by Leonid Urzhuk, Ayas Kagai-ool, Adygzhy Artaa, Rustam Chimit-Dorzhu, Ai-Khaan Chalbaa. They have already taken a copy of the original bas-relief, which is unfortunately rather demolished. The future shrine will be a perfect copy matching the original one right to a tee. The missing parts will be reconstructed with respect to the canonical icons of Buddha Amitabha – the principal Buddha in the Pure Land sect of Buddhism. When the bas-relief is carved, it will be polished and painted just like the original shrine, again in accordance with the classical canons.

It is a huge work, and a huge amount of money to raise. Many Buddhists make donations for the project. However, the key role in the fundraising belongs to both parents of the Head of Tuva – Anay Balchyrovna and Valeriy Khovalygovich Kara-ool, who have launched the fundraising campaign. Part of money is given by the management of Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam.

The niche, the future shrine, is located up in the mountains – 99 meters above the sea, no water can reach it here this time. As soon as the shrine is set and done, the pathway leading here will be put, as well as the stairs and handrails for safety reasons, so that anyone could see and touch the Buddhist shrine. The lamas from Tuva and Tibet will be invited for sanctification of the place.

The hard work of these people is a great feat, in some, so to speak, Christian sense. They hope to finish the project this year.

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