Sunday, January 6

A tiny Buddhist temple in Bhopal

We have a tiny Buddhist Stupa next door to our home in Bhopal, India. It is about 10 feet in height, the base platform being about 5.5 feet in height, and then the brass statue which is about a feet in height and then the chattri or umbrella on top.

The temple has been constructed by this group of dwellers who live behind the statue. As you can see, they are slowly converting their kaccha, or unfinished/mud houses slowly into permanent dwellings and mostly belong to a Chattisgarh based lower caste "kurs".


Apparently they came over 18 years ago when they were facing problems with the tendu patta policy of the government and then came over to Bhopal to act as casual labourers on building sites. Now, they are government employees or running small businesses. In other words, lower middle class employees, they have postal addresses and have now established an identity and the temple was built about 5 odd years ago. Good for them!

Last time I saw it, about 2 years ago, it had a clay statue, but then they replaced it with a metal one. It is NOT this one.

Quite a detailed statue, no? There is a curious story behind this particular statue. Apparently, few weeks ago, there was a spate of thefts in the neighbourhood and the metal statue was stolen (think about the global rise in commodities striking a tiny poor temple in a poor place in the depths of India, the cost of the metal itself is now so high that its worth stealing it for the intrinsic value itself rather than the artistic value). So anyway, the people in the neighbourhood got very upset and did demonstrations and protests, blocked traffic and and and. Guess what the police did? They went and purchased a new statue, plonked it on the pillar and requested that they do not file a compliant! Only in India.

Notice now its cemented in, but it has reasonably fine detailing now. Also note the incence stick holders. Very nice, I love the serene expression on the face of the buddha. Also notice the wheel of time, or karm chakra on the front of the stupa.

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