Relics of Gautama Buddha and two of his disciples, which are housed in the Jaya Shri Mahabodhi Vihara at Bodh Gaya will be on display at Darjeeling and Siliguri in north Bengal in November.

The exhibition was to have been held in July, but had to be cancelled because of the turbulent political situation during the month-long bandh called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), Asit Chhetri of the Dharma Chakra Committee that is organising the event told The Hindu over telephone from Siliguri.

“There is so much unrest here that we thought the exhibition would be a chance to spread Buddha’s message of peace,” Mr. Chhetri said.

On display in Darjeeling from November 7{+t}{+h} to 9{+t}{+h} and in Siliguri from November 11{+t}{+h} to 13{+t}{+h}, it will also be a chance for poor Buddhist tribals here who cannot afford to go to Sarnath or Bodh Gaya, to pay their respects to Lord Buddha, he added.

This will be the first time that these relics will be on display outside Bodh Gaya after they were enshrined at the Jaya Shri Mahabodhi Vihara by the Dalai Lama in 2006, the year of the celebration of the 2,550{+t}{+h} anniversary of the birth of the Buddha, Bhante Seevalee, deputy general secretary of the Mahabodhi Society of India said.

The relics, which include the collarbone of the Buddha and remains of two of his principle disciples Sariputra and Mahamoggallana, have extensively travelled, Mr. Seevalee added.

While the remains of the Buddha were retrieved by the Mahabodhi Soceity from Sri Lanka, the relics of Sariputra and Mahamoggallana were first excavated at Sanchi by Sir Alexander Cunningham, a British archaeologist in 1851.

They were initially preserved in museums in London before the Mahabodhi Society requested them to be returned. They were officially returned by the British government on January 24, 1947 and later handed them over to the Mahabodhi Society.