Theft-hit temple to be gifted new Buddha statue after raid

A skilled stone carver in Thailand agreed to create a new four-foot Buddha. Picture: contributed
A skilled stone carver in Thailand agreed to create a new four-foot Buddha. Picture: contributed
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WHEN news of a treasured Buddha statue stolen from a Capital temple reached Thailand, a stone sculptor was spurred into action.

He skilfully set about crafting a four-foot tall 250kg replacement – the weight of a fully grown Bengal tiger.

It took three months to make and ship nearly 6,000 miles, to go on show at Dhammapadipa Temple in Slateford Road.

Worshipper Sumalee Jaiwangyen said of the September 2016 theft: “We were all very shocked that someone would steal such a loved and respected statue of Buddha.

“However we are so pleased and grateful to the Thai sculptor who offered to create such a beautiful replacement statue for us. It looks fantastic.”

Funds for the statue’s shipping were raised by members of the Thai community in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

But despite its weight, the temple has increased security, including installing state-of-the-art CCTV, to prevent any repeat theft.

The temple – formed in 2005 in response to the Asian Tsunami – is now using the arrival of the new Buddha to plan an expansion of its free meditation classes across Edinburgh.

Deputy Abbot Prasert Prommala said: “As a result of the high profile media attention this incident received, a stone carver in Thailand heard about this and as Buddhists hold Buddha Statutes with the utmost reverence, it struck a chord with his community spirit and he agreed to create a beautiful replacement statue.

“Once it was completed, it was shipped over to Edinburgh where it now takes pride of place in our front garden overlooking Slateford Road.

“We hope the passing community enjoy seeing this outstanding statue as they pass our Temple as much as we do.

“Even though this new statue is 250kg, we have taken nothing for granted and upped our security with a state-of-the-art CCTV system, anti-theft bolts and security lighting.

“It’s a shame that we needed to divert our finite funds to prevent thieves stealing such a religious symbolic statue, but we would be heartbroken if anything further happened to our new and loved statue.”

The Temple has an open door policy for all who are interested in Buddhism, Thai Culture and Meditation.

Deputy Abbot Prommala added: “We have begun free meditation classes to students and staff at Napier University and Edinburgh College and these have proved to be hugely popular.”

The Temple is a registered charity that supports 20,000 Thai citizens living, working and studying in Scotland.

Its outreach work gives support to Thai diaspora who may have become destitute or victims of crime, including domestic and race hate abuse.

Anyone interested in finding out more about its work can go to the temple or contact Dhammapadipa@hotmail.com

A police spokesman confirmed officers are yet to trace the original statue or who took it. He added: “Anyone with information in relation to this theft should contact police via 101.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com