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Buddha fest opens with peace chant

- Doordarshan to telecast three-day Bodh Mahotsava live

The three-day Bodh Mahotsava started on Tuesday at Kalchakra ground amid chanting of sutras by Mahayana and Therawada tradition Buddhist monks.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar, Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary and his other cabinet colleagues inaugurated the Mahotsava by lighting the ceremonial lamp.

Nitish also released the book Celebrating Bihar: The Heritage of Nalanda, authored by Gaya senior superintendent of police (SSP) Nishant Kumar Tiwari. Oxford University is the publisher. The SSP has also written a book earlier titled Charm of Champaran.

The cultural evening started with the dance performance by artists from Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar and India. It is for the first time that live telecast and web cast of the fest is being done. Doordarshan is doing the live telecast of the Mahotsava, while the web cast could be seen on the webcast.gov.in/bodhmahotsava.

In his inaugural address, the chief minister said: “I have been visiting Bodhgaya since 2006 on the occasion of Bodh Mahotsava. I have found that every passing year, the Mahotsava is getting better and it has attained international status. It is organised to encourage world peace. People from across the country and abroad visit the place and they find peace here. Not only followers of Buddhism but of other religions also come to Bodhgaya. It is a matter of pleasure that artists from more countries are participating in the Mahotsava this year.”

However, the chief minister was critical of the terrorist attack in Bodhgaya on July 7 last year.

“Even the place from where message of peace is delivered across the world has not been spared by the terrorists. It was a condemnable incident. Despite all this, the attraction of people towards Bodhgaya is intact. The path of peace is difficult but followers of peace should never get discouraged because it will strengthen destructive forces,” he said.

Nitish added that the government is making all efforts to provide best possible facility to the tourists visiting Bodhgaya in particular and across the state in general. A stupa has been constructed on the campus of Buddha Smriti Park in Patna that has been named as Patliputra Karuna Stupa by the Dalai Lama. To commemorate the 2,550th year of enlightenment of Buddha, the park has been made in Patna where there was prison. A museum has also been constructed on the campus recently.

The chief minister also unveiled a sand art on Buddha made by Sudarshan Patnaik on the red pedestal towards north of the World Heritage Mahabodhi Mahavihara. He inaugurated the renovated guesthouse of the public works department (PWD) adjacent to the office of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee.