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Tian Tan Buddha

By Gaurav Manandhar at
Tian Tan Buddha

Tian Tan Buddha

Tian Tan Buddha is a large bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island in Hong Kong. The statue has got this name because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Due to the large size, the Buddha is also known as the Big Buddha. Most of the people believe that the statue symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people, and faith.

Historical account of Tian Tan Buddha

It is recorded that Tian Tan Buddha was constructed at the beginning of 1990 and was completed only on December 1993. The Chinese believe that this was the day when the Buddha achieved the enlightenment. When the statue was completed, monks from around the world were invited to the opening ceremony. It is learned that almost all the distinguished visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the United States took part in the proceedings.

Iconography and surrounding of the Tian Tan Buddha

Tian Tan Buddha is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. The statue is enthroned on a lotus on top of a three-platform altar. There are other six smaller bronze statues, also known as "The Offering of the Six Devas". These statues are portrayed as offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. It is believed that the statues symbolize the Six Perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom.

Regarding the Tian Tan Buddha, it is 34 meters tall which weighs over 250 metric tons and was constructed from 202 bronze pieces. Additionally, there is a strong steel framework inside the statue which supports the heavy load of the bronze.

The statue is seated in the lotus throne and is portrayed in Abhaya mudra. The right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction while the left rests open on his lap in a gesture of generosity. The robe covers both the arms covering the back. The ear is elongated and has Ushnisha in his head. The Buddha faces north cardinal point which is unique among the great Buddha statues. It is recorded that other great Buddha statues face toward the south cardinal point.

Beneath the statue, there are three floors- the halls of the Universe, the halls of Benevolent Merit, and the halls of Remembrance. It is recorded that the Buddha's alleged cremated remains have been preserved in this hall. The visitors who have purchased an offering for the Buddha are allowed to view the relic. Along with the relic, the room has a huge carved bell inscribed with the images of Buddhas in the showroom. The bell was designed in such a way that the bell ring in every seven minutes. That means, the bell ring 108 times a day symbolizing the release of 108 kinds of human vexations.

The statue is placed high in the hill. Therefore, pilgrims have to climb 268 steps to reach the Buddha statue. But for the physically challenged people, there is also a small winding road for vehicles accommodating them.

Tian Tan in the current period

Many Buddhist pilgrims visit the Tian Tan Buddha to place the gratitude to the Buddha. At most times, the pilgrims also visit Po Lin Monastery next to the Tian Tan Buddha. They also offer homage to three Buddha statues housed in the monastery. The three Buddha statues made up of bronze which represents the Buddha's past, present, and future lives.

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