The Telegraph
Wednesday , August 28 , 2013
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Stage set for Buddhist meet

Around 800 delegates and Buddhists, including prime ministers of Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Mongolia, would visit Patna, Bodhgaya and Rajgir on September 13 and 14 as part of the Global Buddhist Congregation.

During the daylong visit to Patna on September 13, matters related to sustainable re-development of the Mahabodhi temple complex and the environs of Bodhgaya will be discussed in presence of state government officials.

According to schedule, chief minister Nitish Kumar would welcome the delegates at Patna airport on September 13 morning. “After arrival at Patna airport, the delegates would be taken to Buddha Smriti Park for a grand conclave. They would leave for Bodhgaya by road in the afternoon. After reaching Bodhgaya, they would visit Mahabodhi Mahavihara in the evening, where they would participate in a mass prayer session. Another prayer session would be held on the shrine premises the next morning as well,” Nangzey Dorjee, the member-secretary of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

Global Buddhist Congregation, one of the largest international gatherings of Buddhists on Indian soil, is being organised by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), an international Buddhist body. The IBC was founded in 2010 with the vision to create a role for Buddhism on the global stage and represent a united front for Buddhism. The conclave would be primarily held in New Delhi from September 9 to 12, where detailed deliberations would be held on “Future of Buddhism in India”, “Bodhgaya — Revival and Management” and “China’s Buddhist Heritage” among others.

Leaders and followers of all three main Buddhist traditions — Theravada (Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, India), Bodhisattvayana (China, Tibet, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan) and Vajrayana (India, Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan) — are expected to participate in the congregation.

The much-delayed under-construction Buddha museum at Buddha Smriti Park might also see the light of the day during the conclave. “Most of the works related to installation of equipment and development of galleries have been completed. This would be the first-of-its-kind museum of this region being developed using latest technologies. We are intending to open it before the arrival of Buddhist conclave members or even before that,” said a senior official of the Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo), the agency responsible for the upkeep of the only Buddhist shrine in the city.

The non-structural (internal) work has been conceptualised by Canada-based Lord Cultural Resources, which is the master consultant for of the museum project. Based on the theme of Buddha’s life, the museum has original artefacts complemented with audio-visual mediums like orientation theatre, touch screens, digital narration for practising different mudras of Buddha, artificial cave for meditation, and Buddhist chants in exhibition gallery among others.