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Richard on Buddhism trail

- Pretty Woman star to talk on personal experience of faith

Gangtok, April 23: Actor Richard Gere is in Sikkim on a five-day tour of Buddhist monasteries and to deliver a talk on the faith.

The star of Pretty Woman and Chicago has been the practitioner of the Gelgupa school of Tibetan Buddhism for over a decade.

Would he shoot in Sikkim?

His itinerary suggests that is unlikely (See chart).

The actor’s chopper landing in Gangtok yesterday was kept under wraps, sources said.

Gere is scheduled to attend several Buddhist programmes in Gangtok and a wedding before he leaves the state on April 27.

According to the sources, Gere reached Gangtok yesterday afternoon in a Pawan Hans helicopter and took a car to Dharma Chakra Centre at Rumtek in the East district.

“The actor went to the main shrine of the monastery, offered prayers at the 16th Karmapa’s stupa and spent a couple of minutes interacting with the monks at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute. He was offered butter tea and snacks,” a senior monk at the monastery said, requesting anonymity.

For the monks at the institute, a school on Buddhism located on the premises of the Rumtek monastery, it was a dream come true.

“We were amazed with Gere’s immense knowledge of Buddhism. He was very nice and spent time with us. We also took lots of photographs with him,” said the monastery in-charge Omzed Lodey.

Gere would deliver a talk — titled Buddhism in the West and My Personal Experience — at Manan Kendra here at 5pm on April 26. The talk is being organised by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology in Gangtok.

He will also attend a long-life empowerment ceremony to be performed by Khochhen Rimpoche and Sokse Rimpoche at Tsuklakhang monastery tomorrow. This event too is in Gangtok. The actor also runs the Gere Foundation India Trust to support a variety of humanitarian programmes in India since 1999.