The Telegraph
Friday , January 4 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sobriety first for Buddhist conclave

- Dalai Lama arrives for meet, organisers uncertain on Gere’s visit

Patna is set to host the three-day Buddhist Sangha Conference from Saturday with some last-minute changes in the plan.

Chief guest of the conclave, the Dalai Lama, reached the city on Thursday afternoon. Chief minister Nitish Kumar, along with senior government officers, received the Dalai Lama as the Air India’s flight (AI 409) carrying the spiritual leader landed at the airport at 2.30pm. From the airport, the Dalai Lama’s cavalcade went to the state guesthouse where he would stay till January 7.

“The Dalai Lama would sanctify the Bodhi tree sapling at the chief minister’s residence and also consecrate the newly installed statue of the Buddha at Buddha Smriti Park on Friday,” said Bandana Preyashi, the district magistrate of Gaya and the chairperson of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC). Hollywood actor Richard Gere, who is a disciple of the Dalai Lama, is also expected to attend the conference.

“Gere’s name is in the list of the participants. But we are yet to receive any specific information about his arrival,” said a senior safety protocol officer for the event.

The Buddhist conference is being organised by the BTMC, sponsored by the art, culture and youth affairs department and supported by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) and the Patna district administration. Preparations at the Buddha Smriti Park are being looked after by Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo) and are in the final stage.

According to sources, some last-minute changes (see chart) have been made in the preparations at the shrine for the conference. At a high-level review of the preparations on Wednesday evening headed by Anjani Kumar Singh, the principal secretary to the chief minister, it was decided that the event would be “simple and sober”. After the academic sessions, cultural programmes would be held at the main tent in the evening. “Artistes from Ladakh, Sikkim, Odisha and Bihar would perform. Besides, we will organise an exhibition on the theme of Buddhist sites in Bihar at the museum block. Around 200 exhibits would be on display,” said Umesh Chandra Dwivedi, director (museums), art, culture and youth affairs department.

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