A little more than two months after someone destroyed a large Buddha head at a Sugar House shrine, the broken terra cotta statue has been repaired and the sacred space reopened Sunday in a rededication ceremony.
Ben Dieterle, a Zen Buddhist, told The Salt Lake Tribune in January that his heart sank when he discovered that someone had thrown a rock into the shrine, destroying the Buddha statue, just six weeks after he and his friends had dedicated the site at 1917 S. 900 East in Salt Lake City. Known as the “Buddha on 9th,” the custom-made wooden shrine had been a popular stop for neighbors and others who left flowers, lit incense and paused to reflect, Dieterle said at the time.
After the vandalism, Dieterle raised more than $3,700 through a GoFundMe page to repair the 300-pound head and install security features to deter future incidents.
“The power of the kindness of strangers is perhaps one of the enduring themes in Buddhism as well as other religious traditions,” Dieterle said in a news release. “Think of the good Samaritan in Christianity. We are always in awe when a stranger offers to help for no other reason than because it’s the right thing to do.”
Since then, sculptor Eric Wilson has worked to transform the artwork into a “verdigris-colored statue with copper veins made from reinforced concrete that looks and feels like stone,” according to the news release. In addition, Dieterle installed motion detection lights and cameras and a wrought iron fence and gate so he can open the shrine to visitors during the day and lock it at night. The project has cost about $8,000.
But the effort was worth it.
“As often happens, the vandalism brought the community together, and now the statue is more beautiful and more well known than it was before the crime.”