A Buddhist religious leader will arrive in Bendigo tomorrow as the Christian holiday of Easter gets under way.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, whose teachings are practiced at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Myers Flat, will hold a six-week retreat leading into the Illumin8 festival expected to draw thousands of visitors to Bendigo on May 19 and 20.
Lama Zopa will be at the stupa for the return home in two weeks of the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace that has been travelling the world since 2009.
In the stupa, chairman Ian Green has been overseeing preparations for the Buddha’s return.
The five-tonne sculpture will sit beneath an arch featuring a Buddhist artwork of the Tibetan tradition.
Artist Lobsang Konchok painted the artwork over six months, standing on scaffolding in a way Mr Green said was similar to Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The painting shows the dharma wheel decorated with flowers to which eight dakinis, known as muses for spiritual practice, making offerings.
“The purpose of this artwork is to inspire, all art inside any Buddhist temple is to inspire to attain a perfect state,” said Mr Green.
“It is nothing about a personal expression of the artist, it is like a traditional Christian artwork, like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.”
Mr Konchok said he started learning the skill of painting thangka as a child in Tibet.
He also studied in India.
Another student of his teacher painted the 15-metre wide thangka belonging to the Tara Institute that will hang in the stupa for the duration of the retreat.
Institute member Jane Lewis said it was the first time the thangka, a painting on silk, had been hung in a religious place.
It was previously displayed at White Night events in Melbourne and Ballarat and will be viewed by visitors to Illumin8.