A new 45-foot statue of the Buddha erected in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts on the premises of Tainkhalipara Sanghamitva Seva Sangha Vihar (TSSSV) has become a symbol of communal unity in a region too often affected by conflict and unrest.
The statue was the intiative of Venerable U. Waisudha Mahathera, abbot of the TSSSV, and funded by donations. Paimang Marma, a regular visitor to the TSSSV, explained that the statue took two years to biuld, with the help of an architect from Myanmar. Construction costs totaled 3.5 million taka (US$42,000), with donations coming from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim communities, as well as local government representatives, and with politicians providing cooperation in the building process in various ways.
According to Ven. Waisudha, the 45-foot tall Buddha statue is the biggest seated Buddha statue (Buddha in meditation) in the country, although Bangladesh does have two other large Buddha statues: a 100-foot image of a reclining Buddha at Ramu in Cox’s Bazar District, and a standing Buddha in Khagrachari District of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Ven. Jinabodhi Bhikkhu, professor of Pali at Chittagong University, noted that statues of the Buddha in meditation have significant value in Buddhist culture, and that building the statue would bring great honor to Bangladesh. He expressed his hope that the image would attract many tourists, both from Bangladesh and overseas, who would travel to the Chittagong Hill Tracts to visit the statue. (Prothom Alo)
In the last few years, Bangladesh has witnessed several arson attacks on Buddhist religious buildings and ancient monasteries, examples of a trend of increased aggression and violence against Buddhists and other minorities in the country. The Buddha statue at TSSSV, having been funded by donors from various religions and ethnic groups, has become a symbol of cooperation and harmony for the country.