The Telegraph
Saturday , January 11 , 2014
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Tents hit hospitality business, hoteliers up in arms

- Prayer committee claims it does not charge rent from devotees, markets suffer owing to stalls near makeshift camps

Tents put up by Kagyu Monlam Organising Committee for devotees to attend the Kagyu Monlam annual prayers have dealt a blow to the hotels and lodges in the town.

For the past two years, the Kagyu Monlam Organising Committee has been erecting tents to accommodate devotees arriving to participate in the prayer sessions.

The leader of the Kagyu Monlam publicity team, Gompo Chhering, admitted that around 100 tents were put up to provide accommodation to devotees and no rent was charged. The committee had been putting up the tents for the past two years.

At a news meet on January 2, spiritual leader Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who is leading the Kagyu Monlam prayers, said more than 13,000 devotees from different states of India, besides Nepal and Bhutan would take part in the event.

“It would be difficult to accommodate the large number of devotees at the Mahabodhi Mahavihara and therefore, the prayers would be held at Tergar monastery, around 2km northwest of the mahavihara,” he had said.

Hoteliers of Bodhgaya have been opposing the functioning of monasteries as guesthouse or hotels where accommodation is provided to devotees and tourists arriving at Bodhgaya.

Bodhgaya Hotel Association general secretary Sanjay Singh said: “Kagyu Monlam is the biggest annual event in Bodhgaya. If devotees get accommodation on the monastery campus or any adjacent place, it would affect our business. During Kagyu Monlam, hotels used to be booked to capacity. But this year, business has been hit. The association has submitted a memorandum to chief minister Nitish Kumar on several occasions during the past two years demanding a check on commercialisation of the monasteries but to no avail.”

Bodhgaya-based businessman Rakesh Kumar Pappu said: “This could spark a trend of organising annual events in monasteries. The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee grants permission to organise events on the mahavihara campus. When the annual events are organised, devotees take autorickshaw or cycle rickshaws to reach there. As the Kagyu Monlam is being organised at the Tergar Monastery, there would not be much movement of devotees in the market area. It would also affect the income of auto drivers and cycle rickshaw pullers.”

Hasimul Haque, a businessman, said: “Devotees purchase items of daily use from the local market. But eateries and small shops have come up near the tents, adversely affecting sales in the markets.”

According to the directive of the Bihar development commissioner in August 2011, no monastery should have more than 10 rooms for religious purpose.

Commercial tax would be charged from monasteries with more than 10 rooms.

Bodhgaya nagar panchayat executive officer Sanjay Kumar Lal said: “No information has been given to the civic body by the Tergar monastery to erect tents. We will inquire into the matter, as they should have informed the civic body.”

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