A giant statue of the Buddha—believed to be the largest in the Western world—is scheduled to be inaugurated in Brazil later this month with a formal Buddhist ceremony at Morro da Vargem Zen Monastery in Ibiraçu Municipality, in the state of Espírito Santo.
Standing 38 meters tall—the same height as the iconic image of Christ the Redeemer, which overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro—the statue of the seated Buddha took more than a year to complete. It was originally scheduled to be unveiled in September 2020, but this was postponed due to technical delays and because of the COVID-19 pandemic to January this year.
Mosteiro Zen Morro da Vargem was the first Zen Buddhist monastery to be established in South America. Founded in 1974 by the monk Ryotan Tokuda, the monastery, which sits at an elevation of 350 meters, trains monks according to traditional Soto Zen and environmental education. It sits on a site spread over 150 hectares, including 140 hectares that has been set aside for forest conservation and reforestation.