"It doesn't really matter what you worship; what matters is how devoted you are."
A Buddhist culture researcher named Ye Guofeng wrote a letter to Zaobao paper's forum page on Friday (29.6.2007), questioning whether the Buddha Tooth Relic kept by the Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown is real. His letter in Chinese could be read here:
In the letter Ye calls for DNA testing to be done to the tooth, or for a dentist to examine whether it is a human tooth at all, given its large size. He also demands verification by scriptural references to the existence of such a relic. Ye says that in the past many so called tooth relics in other parts of the world were discovered to be fake, so Singaporeans should have a right to know whether what they are venerating is authentic. After all, local people donated more than 43 million dollars & 273kg of gold to construct the temple as well as the gold stupa to house the tooth relic.
I believe the abbot of the temple ,Ven Fazhao will have to make a public clarification soon since somebody had already raised such a doubt on the tooth relic. Personally though, it makes no difference to me as I'm neither an archaeologist nor an academic. There is a well known Tibetan tale on the meaning of authenticity:
A poor old woman living in a small village in Tibet saved all her life to buy a relic of the Buddha. Hearing that one of the Buddha's tooth relic was going to be sold in a city in neighbouring India, she gave all the money to her no-good drunkard of a son and told him to travel there on a pilgrimage to obtain the relic for her. But he soon got distracted by the sights and sounds, squandering all the money on alcohol and girls instead. Later on the way back he found a dead dog in the gutter & took a tooth from its mouth. Wrapping it in a piece of golden cloth, he decided to bring it back to his mother in Tibet. The son even derided her for her superstitious faith as he presented her with the fake tooth relic. A week later, he passed her room and saw her praying before her little altar. The mouldy dog’s tooth was ablaze with divine light, and soon the whole village learned of the amazing occurrence. His mother's little altar had transformed into a famous shrine of the Buddha's relic overnight! Many miracles were attributed to it and to his mother as keeper of Buddha’s tooth. Her deeds of compassion and goodness were profound and her happiness unbounded. The young man, however, grew more and more disturbed as the relic’s reputation grew and his mother’s saintliness increased. This built up over years, and finally he couldn't stand living a lie any more. One evening, after several Lamas had visited and received both blessings and teachings from the tooth, he finally blurted out the true story to his mother: “That's not the Buddha’s tooth. I lost all the money you gave me. I got that tooth from a dead dog!" And he ran outside the house. Just outside the door stood a magnificent man looking at him with eyes of loving-kindness. It was the Buddha. In a gentle voice, the Buddha said: “That was my tooth, you know."
So there you have it; faith or science? It is all up to you really.