The middle of the three brightly decorated elephants in this picture is carrying a casket on its back that contains what many Buddhists say is the most precious item in the world – the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. The story of the tooth relic is interesting. It is claimed to be the left eye tooth of the Buddha which was taken from the funeral pyre of the Buddha in 543 BC, and in the early 4th century taken from India to Sri Lanka. Indian invaders in the 13th century took it back to India, but a war was fought to bring it back to Sri Lanka. In the 16th century, the Portuguese, in their efforts to convert the Sinhalese to Catholicism, took the tooth away to Goa and pounded it to dust and threw it into the sea. Some books say that the dust reconstituted itself on the sea bed and the tooth flew back to Sri Lanka of its own accord, whilst others say that what the Portuguese took to Goa was only a replica, and the real tooth was still in Kandy. Who knows what the real story is. The British opened the casket containing the tooth in 1815, and said it looked more like a crocodile’s tooth, but nowadays nobody is allowed to see the tooth as it is kept sealed inside a gold casket, inside a series of larger caskets inside a heavily guarded room in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy (except when it is taken out for the Esala Perahera). I would expect that given today’s modern technology, the tooth could be tested to see if it really does date back to 543 BC and whether it is from a human being or a crocodile, but I guess nobody wants to know the answer to that in case it destroys the Legend of the Tooth over which so many wars have been fought (even the Chinese went to war at one stage to try and steal the famous Tooth).