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Maiden peace candle march marks celebrations
- Prayers, meal to observe Buddha Purnima; tourism department chalks plans to promote sites

For the first time ever, a peace candle march was organised at Mahabodhi Mahavihara to mark Buddha Purnima on Wednesday.

Mahavihara chief priest Bhikkhu Chalinda said the candle march was organised to deliver the message of peace and brotherhood across the globe after the serial blasts in Bodhgaya on July 7 last year.

The march started from the Bodhi tree and concluded at the butter lamp house (deep ghar) towards the north of the Mahavihara campus.

Around 163 devotees were allowed for night meditation on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9pm to 5am.

Chalinda said: “Before the candle march, a special prayer was organised at Sujata temple, around 2km east of the Mahavihara to attract devotees and the tourists. At present, a few tourists visit Sujata temple.”

The tourism principal secretary, B. Pradhan, who was the chief guest at the event, said: “The tourism department would organise a two-day international conclave in Bodhgaya on September 26 and 27 to promote tourism.” Pradhan lit the ceremonial candle to start the programme.

He also released the annual bilingual journal of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BMTC) Prajna and Bodh Mahotsava 2014 commemoration DVD with Magadh division commissioner R.K. Khandelwal and Gaya senior superintendent of police (SSP) Nishant Kumar Tiwary. Gaya district magistrate-cum-BTMC chairman Balamurugan D. welcomed the guests.

Bhikkhu Chalinda said: “The procession today (on Wednesday) started from the 80ft statue in which more than 500 devotees, including representatives of different monasteries in Bodhgaya, from US, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, took part.”

The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee has made elaborate arrangements for the occasion. A pandal with proper lighting has been put up at the Kalchakra ground. Five buses have been pressed into service to ferry devotees from Gaya railway station to Bodhgaya for free.

“The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee has also organised sanghdana (meal offering) for the devotees. On Wednesday, sanghdana and civara (robe) were offered to 1,000 monks and devotees,” BTMC member Arvind Singh said.

BTMC secretary Nangzey Dorjee distributed 3,000 packets comprising fruits, flour, sugar and mineral water bottle, among patients and their attendants of Anugrah Narayan Medical College and Hospital, Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital and Prabhawati Hospital. A health camp was also organised.

The tourism department has prepared a plan to develop and promote Buddhist sites across the state. They have sought assistance from International Finance Corporation for the purpose.

A new ropeway in Rajgir and a 75ft Buddha statue at Ghora Katora are on cards.


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