| Bodhgaya’s Mahabodhi Mahavihara lit up on Friday evening. Picture by Suman |
Bihar will host the International Buddhist Conclave next month for which close to 300 pilgrims and leaders are expected to arrive in Bodhgaya from around the world.
The three-day event will start on September 26. It is being organised by the International Buddhist Confederation in association with the Union tourism ministry.
Deepak Prasad, principal secretary, tourism, said the event would be a boost for the state’s tourism sector. The delegates would be mainly from southeast Asian nations and countries with a Buddhist population.
Deepak said: “The event is important for the state and its tourism sector. A delegation of 300 people from different countries is expected to attend the event. The government wants the members to be properly welcomed. It will ensure they have a pleasurable stay in Bodhgaya and are impressed by Bihar.”
Another tourism department official said: “At present, we do not know about the delegation that will visit Bodhgaya. The Centre is responsible for the invitations. The members would go to Nalanda and Ragjir on a field visit on the second day of the conclave.”
Sources said the department was working with the industries department to ensure the delegation gets a taste of the Bihari culture and arts and craft.
The international confederation (formed in 2010), which is organising the event, has big names like the Dalai Lama associated with it. Its first conclave was held last year in New Delhi from September 9 to 12. A delegation of 280 Buddhists, including Bhutan princess Ashi Kesang Wangmo, attended it.
Sources in the state tourism department said the Union ministry mostly organises the conclave. The state government is responsible for the delegates’ stay and travel.
The Dalai Lama is unlikely to attend this year’s event. According to the schedule posted on www.dalailama.com, he would be at Dharamsala from September 24 to 26.
He did not attend last year’s conclave too. However, the Buddhist Sangha Conference at Patna’s Buddha Smriti Park in January 2013 was graced by the Dalai Lama.
During last year’s conclave in the capital, the delegation had visited Bodhgaya too. This year’s meet is more significant for the state though.
“Bihar’s artisans are very talented in creating artefacts, but the products are not customised and marketed properly. Now that the conclave is being organised in Bihar, both the departments would work to provide the artists an opening,” said Naveen Verma, principal secretary, industries.
He added: “The government would gift the visitors items made by the artists. These items would be easy to carry. It would help the artists gain international recognition through word of mouth.”