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Security question over chant session

- Latest safety gadgets missing during Tipitaka reading ceremony at Mahabodhi Mahavihara

The international Tipitaka chanting ceremony that started at World Heritage Mahabodhi Mahavihara on Monday has reflected the demand to smoothen the security arrangements for tourists visiting the temple for prayers.

At present more than 3,000 devotees from nine countries are participating in the chanting sessions and they have to queue up and undergo manual frisking by security personnel holding metal detectors and also cross through doorframe metal detectors.

“The devotees feel secured by the existing security arrangements in view of the July 7 serial blasts in Bodhgaya,” said Wangmo Dixey of Light of Buddha Dharma Foundation International, India, who has been instrumental in organising the Tipitaka chanting event.”

She added that had the latest security check gadgets been installed, it would have saved time of the devotees going to the Mahavihara campus for the chanting.

When the Tipitaka chanting was organised for the first time on the Mahavihara campus in 2005, only 250 monks of five countries, mostly from the Viharas (monasteries) in Bodhgaya had participated. This year, more than 3,000 devotees from more than nine countries are participating in the chanting.

“We had requests from Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan, too, but devotees from these countries could not join the event this year. However, we expect to add at least two more countries next year. Tipitaka chanting is the biggest prayer session for followers of Theravada tradition of Buddhism and thus the number of participants would certainly increase in the coming years,” she said.

Dixey added: “In view of the growing number of devotees visiting Bodhgaya in general and the Mahavihara in particular, such security arrangements should be made that it does not bother tourists. Of course, there was a bit of scare in the minds of participants of the chanting ceremony. In view of the existing security arrangements, the scare has gone. Now, just the entry of devotees has to be smoothened.”

In view of the July 7 blasts security arrangements have been tightened. Two companies of Bihar Military Police, Special Task Force, district armed police, including female personnel, counter insurgency anti-terrorist squad jawans have been deployed on the Mahavihara campus and on the red pedestal towards north of the Mahavihara.