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Invite to Gere for holy meet

Hollywood star Richard Gere could be in Patna in the new year to attend the Buddhist Sangha Conference at the city’s Buddha Smriti Park.

Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) member secretary Nangzey Dorjee told The Telegraph that an invitation has been sent to the actor but no confirmation has arrived yet. The BTMC is organising the conference that will be held between January 5 and 7.

If the star of the iconic 1990 rom-com Pretty Woman does visit the state capital, it would be the second year in a row that Gere would be in Bihar. This year in January, he was in Bodhgaya for the 32nd Kalchakra Puja.

Dorjee, the BTMC member secretary, said: “Gere had attended the Kalchakra Puja in Bodhgaya in January and had met chief minister Nitish Kumar too. It is in consideration of Gere’s last visit to Bihar, and because he is a disciple of the Dalai Lama, that we have invited him to the conference. Though we have not received any confirmation, he is expected to participate only in the inaugural event.”

For the presence of the high-profile delegates, including the Dalai Lama and Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, at the conference, the park would be closed to common visitors. Buddhist leaders, including Thai Sangha representative Somdet Prawannarat, Bangladesh Sangharaja Dharmasen Mahasthivir and Los Angeles Buddhist Union president Bhante Chao Chu, will also attend the conference.

The art, culture and youth affairs department is sponsoring the three-day event, supported by the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation and Patna district administration. The Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation is supervising the preparations at the park. A tent, where the deliberations would be held, would be erected in a couple of days beside the central stupa at the park.

The BTMC and the department of art, culture and youth affairs have finalised the programme schedule and academic topics that would be up for deliberation during the conference to be inaugurated by the Dalai Lama. On the inaugural day, chief minister Nitish Kumar would address the conference at 3.50pm, followed by the Dalai Lama at 4.10pm.

Ryojun Sato, the pat- riarch of the International Buddhist Brotherhood Association, Japan, will deliver the keynote address.

The district administration has also booked around 200 rooms in leading hotels of the city for the delegates. District magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh said: “We would also ensure tight security during the conference. The Dalai Lama will come with his own security but we will also provide him personnel according to his security protocol. There would be heavy deployment of police around the shrine during the course of the conference and we would take steps for decongesting the area around the Station Road.”