| Thailand princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn offers prayers at Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodhgaya on Sunday. Picture by Suman |
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand on Sunday formally dedicated the gold plating on the spire of the World Heritage Mahabodhi Mahavihara to the temple.
A special prayer by a senior priest from Thailand marked the offering ceremony on the Mahavihara campus.
Thailand king Bhumibol Adulyadej donated the major part of the 289.042kg pure gold used for plating around the spire of the shrine. Devotees from Thailand donated the rest of the gold.
Thin gold sheets of 5mm were prepared to wrap the spire. The work started on November 12 and was completed on November 27. Since then, the Sundayís prayer was the first such by any member of the Thai royal family.
The Thai princess arrived in Bodhgaya around 2pm on Sunday and visited the Mahavihara thereafter.
She offered prayers before the statue of Buddha in the sanctum sanctorum, sat on meditation under the Bodhi tree and also visited the Muchlind pond on the southern end of the Mahavihara campus.
A water purifying equipment, Chaipattana Aeiriter, a brainchild of the Thai king, has been installed at the centre in the pond.
Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee secretary Nangzey Dorjee welcomed the princess at the reception of Mahavihara. Chief priest Bhikkhu Chalinda led the princess to offer prayers.
The princess, the kingís second daughter, is on a six-day tour to the country during which she will visit the Telhara excavation site in Nalanda district on Monday, the ruins of the ancient Nalanda University, the Rajgir international convention centre and the Nalanda archaeological museum.
She will also visit Nagalandís capital Kohima and Dimapur district of the state before returning to Bangkok on February 28.
During her visit, Indian Air Force helicopter and a special aircraft of Air India will be pressed into service.
Telhara is near the ruins of the ancient Nalanda University. The princess will also attend the Nalanda advisory panel meeting. She will stay in Bodhgaya on Sunday and Monday nights.
On Tuesday, she will leave for Dimapur in a special aircraft of Air India.
On February 27, she will leave for Delhi from Dimapur and return to Bangkok from Delhi on February 28.