Relics of the Buddha and 37 other Buddhist masters are on display at a new yoga studio, Shuniaa in Nevada City, over the weekend.
At first sight, the relics resemble shimmering pearls inside their golden containers; devotees believe they were found in the cremation ashes of the Buddhist masters, produced by them at the time of their death.
The relics are being taken around the world and eventually will be kept inside a 500-foot statue of the Maitreya Buddha in northern India. According to Buddhist scriptures, Maitreya will be the next Buddha to bring the teachings of loving kindness to the world. "Maitreya" comes from the Indian word "maitreyi," meaning "harmony."
"It's hard to articulate in words (what it means) to have such an amazing blessing come, not only to my studio, but also to Nevada County," said Dev Dharam Singh Khalsa, president and co-founder of Shuniaa, which opened its doors Friday.
"We have a lot of people interested in this display. There are representatives of local Buddhists and other communities who will come," Khalsa said.
The display began Friday evening and will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday.
Carmen Straight is a representative of the Maitreya Project, which is building the Maitreya Buddha statue in India. She tours the world with the relics.
"The purpose of the tour is to bring the blessing (of the relics) to communities around the world," Straight said. "Whenever you are in the presence of the relics, you receive blessings from them. People generally have a feeling of peace and well-being."
Some of the relics on display come from the personal collection of the Dalai Lama.
"Relics are usually housed inside statues," Straight said. "Knowing that a Maitreya Buddha statue will be built, many people have offered the relics of their masters."
There is no entry fee to see the display. Shuniaa Yoga Studio and Cafe is at 212 Church St., Nevada City.
To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4229.