‘Fire not at Jokhang chapel that houses Buddha statue’

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Dharamsala, Feb 19 (IANS) The fire was not at the Jokhang chapel that houses the highly revered Jowo-Buddha Shakyamui statue but it was at an adjacent building within the Jokhang temple premises in Lhasa, Tibet, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said.

Reliable sources have told the CTA leadership the source of the fire is not the Jowo chapel but from an adjacent chapel within the Jokhang temple premises known in Tibetan as Tsuglakhang, a post on CTA’s website said.

It is reported that the fire on Saturday was extinguished and there was no casualties and damage to property is yet to be ascertained.

The Jokhang temple is considered the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism.

CTA President Lobsang Sangay, who is currently on a six-day official visit to Japan, cautioned Tibetans in Tibet to remain alert at large public gatherings, especially during occasions such as Losar New Year festival.

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“At this point in time, I cannot comment much until the cause of the fire is brought to light but it is disturbing to see tragic accidents take place at Jokhang temple premises, one of the most hallowed sites in Tibet and a UNESCO World Heritage site,” CTA’s Minister for Religion and Culture Karma Gelek Yuthok said in a statement.

The Jokhang Temple will be closed from Monday until February 22 as scheduled, when its monks mark the New Year holiday.

The Jokhang chapel has a history of more than 1,300 years and houses many cultural treasures, including a life-sized statue of the 12-year old Buddha also known as Jowo Sakyamuni.

The Tibetan administration is based in the northern hill town of Dharamsala where a community of Tibetans lives in exile with their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

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–IANS

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