Bendigo’s Illumin8 Festival of Light and Peace featured a special highlight this year: the homecoming and consecration of the statue, The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace.
Held at The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion from 18 – 20 May, the annual celebration of peace and harmony inspired by Buddha’s life was enjoyed by around 10,000 people. Visitors took part in activities and attractions from light shows, performances and market stalls to the interfaith Peace Park garden and the public unveiling of The Jade Buddha, now home following a worldwide tour.
The festival was supported by the Victorian Government’s $20 million Regional Events Fund.
The Great Stupa is helping secure Bendigo’s position as an international travel destination and a place of multi‑faith and spiritual expression. A stupa is the most sacred building in Buddhism and the landmark Bendigo monument, with its 50m² base, is modelled on Tibet’s 15th century Great Stupa of Gyantse. Once complete, it will be the largest stupa in the western world. Construction began on the site in 2003 and people have been flocking to the monument since it opened to visitors in 2012. It currently attracts more than 25,000 visitors each year and numbers are projected to exceed 90,000 annually within 10 years.
In 2017 the Victorian Government contributed $2.505 million, under the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, to help complete the main structure and adorn its top with a golden parasol and spire. With work on the sixth, and final, level nearly finished, the iconic building will soon be capped with the golden parasol and spire, marking the next stage of The Great Stupa’s development.