100,000 Taiwanese Greet Buddha's Finger Relic From Mainland
Some 100,000 Taiwanese Buddhists greeted a relic said to be the 2,500-year-old finger of Sakyamuni Buddha as it arrived from Chinese mainland on Saturday.

The arrival of the Buddhist treasure marked one of the most important cross-Straits religious exchanges.

The crowds chanted sutra and clasped hands to pay respect as the relic was moved from Taipei airport Taiwan University stadium, local television pictures showed.

The entourage was led by marching bands and police vehicles on its way to the stadium, which was decorated for worshippers.

Hundreds of Taiwanese Buddhists accompanied the finger on its journey from Xi'an, in northern Shaanxi province, to Taiwan via Hong Kong.

The relic will be displayed around Taiwan for 37 days.

Sakyamuni Buddha died in 485 BC and the finger was brought to China from India some 200 years later, historical documents show.

A Tang Dynasty emperor ordered it to be sealed under the pagoda in the Famen Temple in Xi'an in 874 AD.

The finger was not seen in public until 1986, when the provincial government cleared the rubble of the temple's pagoda after heavy rains caused it to collapse in 1981.

(China Daily February 24, 2002)