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14 April 2008
Ian Green: My connection with this land and with the Great Stupa project goes back over 26 years now. That time ago my father actually offered this land. The whole project is quite massive really, the Great Stupa. It's 50 metres across, each way and rises to nearly 50 metres high as well.
It's been designed, engineered and built to last for 1000 years. We hope to have the Stupa finished to a workable stage by 2010. I think it's probably our lifetime's work and I'm not even saying it will be completed by our lifetime but at least it will be well and truly developed by that stage. As well as this big temple, on each level there are shrine rooms as well and there could be up to 70 of those shrine rooms as well, each one of those shrine rooms will have to be decorated with appropriate statues and artwork on the walls.
Venerable Khedup turned up here on the doorstep so to speak 2 or 3 years ago and said, his mission was he said, to spend his life developing and decorating and preparing the artwork for the Great Stupa.
Venerable Thupten Khedup: They need me help and I helped, I like to help.
This Buddhist sculpture, this a Tibetan tradition designed - very, very much good luck. When it's hard it's difficult. When it's not hard it's easier. When is very hard is hard. 20 - 25 degrees is right maybe 30 - 35 degrees then a problem. Australian butter's good but Tibetan yak butter is better in Australia.
Bernadette Nunn: Why?
Venerable Thupten Khedup: Tibetan butter is just making things very easier because maybe one, in Tibet is very cold and water's very cold and butter's making very easier.
Ian Green: The statue is of Guru Rinpoche. It was incredibly difficult to find anyone in Australia to do gold leaf work and in fact we couldn't find anyone so 2 people from Taiwan were suggested and that's exactly how they ended up here.
Chun roo Huang: At first we paint undercoat here and then after it get dry and then I paint blue on there it look like this red mark. This is the guru I painted yesterday and then it takes about 12 hours to get dry here in the weather in Australia. In Taiwan it takes about 24 hours a day and then after that when it's not, when you touch is complete dry it is not sticky anymore then is time to gold leaf. And then we gold leaf is just open the gold leaf like this and put on the area. Actually I don't think it's difficult but you need more experiences and practice. If we do everything by hand I think it would take about one month. The gold is imported from Japan and made into gold leaf like this in Taiwan. About 5000 Australian dollars to cover the whole statue with gold. The majority's from Taiwan, donation from Taiwan because it's a Chinese custom - people like to make offering to the holy object. Once it's completed I think it's very possible they will come here to do pilgrimage.
Venerable David Lungtok: A lot of support for the Great Stupa is coming from those established traditions. People in Thailand have been very supportive, people in Taiwan and Singapore for example. We have a strong connection with the Vietnamese Buddhist community here in Australia. They're extremely supportive of our efforts so I think all of the mainstream traditions are very much involved with what's going on here.
Ian Green: We live in Australia which is a multicultural nation and because we're establishing Australian Buddhism so to speak it's very appropriate that it should be a multicultural form of Buddhism.
And also we have many Christian leaders here as well.
Today we have in this city and on this very land his holiness the Dalai Lama.
It's a dream come true for me really and for everyone involved with this Great Stupa. To have his holiness here on this land to actually bless the land and to make it so special it's... I can't express it really.
The Great Stupa is of international significance for Buddhism. It's the largest stupa outside of Asia. To have his holiness come here is really like the final stamp of approval. So I think internationally Bendigo and the Great Stupa in Bendigo will become an ever growing pilgrimage place for Buddhists.