Bhubaneswar, August 18 (Odisha.in) Over 500 intellectuals drawn from different parts of the State staged a protest dharana before the Raj Bhavan Saturday to press their demands for keeping the relics of lord Gautam Buddha at the Lalitgiri excavation site from where the relics were found in four containers during excavation in 1982.
The demonstrators demanded that instead of shifting it to Ratnagiri as envisaged by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The demonstrators included Pradipta Bhuyan, President, and Debendra Kumar Sahu, Secretary, Budhayan, Lalitgiri, Paresh Nayak, Chairman Odisha International Centre, Bhuabneswar , Lalit Mohan Patnaik of Agami Orissa, Debabrata Ajay Ballav Das, Prahallad Narayan Patnaik and others.
Lalitgiri is one of the oldest Buddhist sites, in Jajpur district of Orissa. The rare relic is now confined to the dark strong room of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since past 25 years.
“It is unfortunate that the ASI has kept the excavated caskets having historical, religious,archaeological and cultural importance out of the view of the people confining inside the storng room much to the apathy of the state government,”they said.
Four golden caskets , three of which contained the rarest of rare relics of Lord Buddha was recovered in 1982 while the excavation was undertaken by ASI under the leadership of Historian , late Prof. Karuna sagar Behera of Utkal University from one stone Stupa of Lalitgiri, the only Buddhist site in Eastern India.
The relics were kept inside golden caskets with gold wrappers stored in three layers first being the stone followed by the Silver caskets.
According to historians, the Buddhist site of Lalitgiri was first discovered by the then British Commissioner to Orissa, John Beam in way back 1878 and the recovery of the Caskets has re-established the status and image of Lalitgiri as a foremost centre of Buddhism in the world.
Asked about the reported decision to shift the casket to Ratnagiri, a spokesman of the local ASI said,” Since there is no safe place or Museum at Lalitgiri, we have proposed to keep it at Ratnagiri Buddhist Museum. We have sought the decision of the Union Culture Ministery and the communication is awaited “.
However, the state government has washed its hands in this regard.”We wanted to preserve the caskets in State Museum from tourism point of view which has been rejected by the ASI on the plea that it is their property, Secretary Culture, Gopinath Mohanty told Odisha.in.