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Last updated: July 28, 2007

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Bodhgaya Is To Host World Peace Ceremony
The Rising Nepal [ 2006-12-29 ], By Ugen Sherab,
The World Peace Ceremony is a celebration of light within darkness and darkness within light, which flows with a hopeful source for world peace. As puja 'Nyingma Monlam Chenmo' begins from Jan.19 to 28, 2007 Bodhgaya, the holy site, scores symphony with colours and monks. The beginning month of the New Year appears as the season of flavour considering the big gathering of Dhamma devotees flocking to the holy city. Read More

Bodh Mahotsav concludes today
Sahara Samay. Posted at Friday, 29 December 2006 20:12 IST, Bodhgaya, Dec 29: The Bodh Mahotasav today concludes here after registering huge inflow of disciples from across the world, Sahara Samay sources said. This year celebrations mark the 2550 enlightenment anniversary of Mahatma Buddha. Read More

Kagyu 24th Pooja for World Peace from today
Bodhgaya, 26 December 2006 (Dainik Jagran). For world peace and prosperity the 24th Kagyu Monlom pooja will be inaugurated by the 'Sholjung' pooja in the shade of the sacred of the Bodhi tree situated in the compound of the Mahabodhi temple on Wednesday. Concerning the pooja the Karmapa's secretary Gompo Chering said that the 'Sholjung' pooja would begin at 5.30. He said that under the auspices of the pooja all the Lamas and faithful would take a vow to all day long do auspicious works so that this might be established as a habit in life. Following that from six in the evening there would be a special prayer ceremony inaugurated by the head guru. Taking part in this pooja will be Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche, Kenken Yogjeen Thungu Rinpoche, Mingoor Rinpoche, Gyalsam Rinpoche [and other people to numerous to mention:pgf]. He said that apart from about a thousand Tibetan Lamas countless foreign tourists would also be taking part in the pooja. He said that the pooja was being done with the aim of benefiting humanity and in particular bearing in mind those people who lived in the Bodhgaya area. Mr Chering said that the Dharmaguru [i.e. head of the Kagyu lineage] had organised two special groups for health and cleanliness. [report continues with notes on how many butter offerings are being prepared and special arrangements for the seating of international visitors have been made. Furthermore the Karmapa has given special training to the monks in Terga Monastery and on Tuesday scores of monks in traditional dress performed and were inspected by the Karmapa himself.

Town buzzing with rumours about preparations for Buddhist Festival
Bodhgaya, 16 December 2006 (Dainik Jagran). As ever this year once again the government is to organise a three day Buddhist Festival in the place of the Buddha's enlightenment. This year the state has organised that in view of it being the 2550th anniversary of the Buddha's Mahaparinirvana the proposed festival should be special and on a high level. The dates of the Buddhist festival have been announced by the state and district administration. Whilst to ensure the success of the festival committees have been inaugurated by the district administration. However, the progress in publicising the festival is still slow. Due to which the local people and visiting tourists are still unaware of the forthcoming program and have not had a glimpse of the extensiveness of the three day program. There are only ten days left till the program, but there are no banners by the roadside and no signs or posters displayed.
Local people say that last year a fortnight before the festival signboards and notices announcing the festival program were displayed in different places along the Gaya to Bodhgaya road. But this time there is nothing. Organisations for the international seminar are being made on the level of the temple management committee. This has been organised to add weight to the Buddhist Festival by the Temple Management Committee on the 29th of December. The clear up and cleaning of the area for the Buddhist Festival has been carried out by the local administration. But work on the painting and restoration of the stage is delayed.

Multi-faith Conference on 2550th Anniversary of the Buddha's Parinirvana
Bodhgaya, December 10 2006, (Dainik Jagran). On the forthcoming 29th of December in view of it being the 2550th anniversary of the Buddha's Parinirvana there will be a multi-faith conference organised in the compound of the Temple Management Committee. Under the auspices of the Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee well known participants from various religions will take part. The conference will be inaugurated in the shade of the sacred Bodhi tree.
Whilst jointly giving this information the Temple Committee Secretary Dr. Kalicaran Singh Yadav and the Monk in charge Bhante Bodhipal said that those who would be present would include: from the Hindu dharma Swami Shankaranand of the Ranchi branch of the Ram Krishna mission; from the Islamic dharma the former VC of Ranchi University Prof. Seen Aktar; from the Jain dharma Sadhvi Dr. Samprajnaji from Virayatana Rajgir; from the Christian dharma Benedict Osta Archbishop of Patna; from the Sikh dharma Patna Gurdwara's leader Gyani Ikbal Singh ji; and from the Buddha dharma the head teacher of the Kagyu lineage the 17th Karmapa Ugyen Trinle Dorje. It is possible that the conference will be inaugurated by the state's governor R. S. Gavai.

Temporary location for Vegetable market and footpath traders
Bodhgaya, 29 Nov 2006 (Dainik Jagran). Bodhgaya's 'Buddha wisdom' vegetable market and footpath traders will be provided within two or three days with a temporary location by the district administration. The aforementioned decision was taken by the District Magistrate at a meeting chaired by him on Tuesday. The block officer Rakesh Kumar told the meeting that an empty place on the east of the Kalacakra field was being made available. Within a few days the vegetable market would be relocated there. He also added that for the footpath traders who had been removed sites have been identified alongside the Jayprakash Narayan garden compound wall and on the northern side of the Tibetan temple. Which after a few days would be confirmed and put into action. He said the site of the Taxi stand would be changed. He said the situation is unclear in relation to the rates to be realised from the relocated vegetable market and footpath traders which would be clarified quickly. He said the town council was presenting its claim to the eastern fringe of the Kalacakra field. He said that in the meeting the District Magistrate inspected the papers in relation the restoration of a tank on the bypass road and carried out a site inspection. In the meeting were present: the chief sub-circle officer, the town council head, the deputy head, Jay Singh the head of the hotel association, the temple secretary Dr. Kalicaran Singh Yadav, along with the leader of the footpath traders association and the vegetable market union leader.

Long necked Buddha dispute
Bodhgaya, 14 November 2006, (Dainik Jagran). A dispute arose on Tuesday about a long necked Buddha image made by an artist working in the 'Buddha Enlightenment International' art project. New Buddhists (Ambedkarites) declared the image to be 'insulting' (bigarne) and cloaked it in fabric. The workshop has been running for the last twenty days in the Tourist Bungalow compound and about three dozen artists from India and around the world have been presenting work in it. Amongst the artists is Sanjay Kumar from Sahebganj who made this image of the Buddha who has a fairly long neck and holds a rosary in his hand. Crowds gathered to see the long neck of this Buddha. But on Tuesday evening hundreds of new Buddhists who had come to visit Bodhgaya objected to the image. They all said that this was not an image of Buddha found anywhere. It was a joke made by the artist at the expense of Buddhists. Whilsts the artist claimed this was not his intention. He said clearly it was something he had imagined and he had presented through the medium of art. If anybody was offended by it he was sorry. Some dispute had already arisen on Monday night about this, but this dispute had been raised by Sanatanadharm followers (Hindus).

Bodhgayanews attracts 15,000 visitors so far in 2006
Melbourne, November 11th 2006. (Peter Friedlander). I have been running this site now for a few years and its great to see people still visiting, and I think in every increasing numbers, October was the busiest month this year with some 10,566 requests for pages. Remembering that web statistics are a pretty vague science its notable that your visit is one of an average of about 250 a day which the site is currently receiving. Or to put it another way in 2006 so far around 15,000 people have visited 20,000 times and viewed 40,000 pages. So whatever way you look at it that sounds like a lot of people are interested in Bodhgaya. So thanks for dropping by.

Gandhi and Gandhigiri
Melbourne, 9th November 2006, (Peter Friedlander). By some odd chance I ended up doing a ten minute segment on a Radio Darwin show today. Here are the notes I made up for that conversation.
Since the film 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai' was released on September 1st 2006 a new word 'Gandhigiri' has entered the worlds vocabulary. It is an invented word, coined by Abhijaat Joshi, who was born in Amhamadabad but is now an Ohio-based writer who penned the screenplay and dialogue writer of "Lage Raho Munna Bhai". In Hindi words like Dadagiri mean rule by the mafia (mafia dons can be called dada in Hindi) and the ending -giri is often associated with gangsters. For instance, when a peaceful protest in Delhi recently turned violent one press article talked of it turning from Gandhi-hood back to thug-hood (goondagiri).
The film built on the success of an earlier movie Munna Bhai MBBS (2003) in which the characters of a lovable gangster, Munna Bhai, and his sidekick, Circit, were introduced. In that film Munna Bhai tried to become a doctor, in this he tries to become an expert on Gandhi. Media interest in the movie made for an explosion of interest in Gandhi. One of the features of the movie is that it ‘re-brands' Gandhi as somebody human and approachable, which is wildly different from the general perception of him which has him as a kind of stuffy father figure of the nation famous for his being an ascetic,puritanical ideas. But in the movie he gives advice to Munna Bhai on his love life, and inspires him to adopt non-violent methods to solve his problems, the writer of the film comments that they wanted to promote the side of Gandhi which was ‘witty, homorous and light-hearted'.
The success of the movie and the notion of gandhigiri has led to a world wide movement and the establishment of several websites promoting the idea of Gandhigiri, in the sense of following Gandhian principles. One story speaks of Gandhi being ‘cool like never before' (NDTV).
However, under this umbrella there is a lot of stuff going on which is using the word Gandhi than anything else. Some is related to Gandhi's ideas of non-violent protest. These were influential on figures such as Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in the US . So pretty much any non-violent protest could be described as an aspect of Gandhigiri, and is in the press at the moment. Indeed, odd headlines, like ‘Nuclear Gandhigiri' are appearing, trying to address the notion of how there could be peaceful protests against North Korea 's nuclear campaign. Or ‘Gandhigiri hits Hollywood ' which is a story about how Angelina Jolie is working as a goodwill ambassadour for refugees. ( Washington Post).
On the other hand some people are taking up the particular form of protest which is illustrated in the movie, sending flowers and get well cards to corrupt bosses. For instance. Back on October 10th doctors at the AIIMS in Delhi protested by sending flowers and get well cards during the visit of the the health minister Anubamani Ramadoss's against his lack of action during the recent epidemic of Dengue fever in Delhi, in which more than 175 people have died this rainy season.
Current protests in Delhi also paint a picture of Gandhigiri in action, and its problems. The Delhi Government has moved against shops which were illegally built in areas not zoned for commerce and shut them down and in protest the traders organised a Gandhigiri type protest with sending flowers and get well cards to the administration. However, when their peaceful protests did not work they also resorted to mob violence to try and implement their aims, what one paper called Gandhigiri turning into Goondagiri, with looting, burning of cars, buses and general mayhem.
So while there is no doubt a great future for non-violent protest along Gandhian lines whether the success of this movie will turn out to have the impact that Gandhi's life itself did is something we will have to wait and see.

Three Bodhgaya tales: Art and Business
Melbourne, November 11th 2006. (Peter Friedlander). There have been a few stories about Bodhgaya recently in the Dainik Jagran. Some tell familiar stories, for instance complaints about parking and traffic chaos in the temple area, probems at the station in Gaya, some are variations on common stories, like the one about the tourist season below, some are new, like the idea of an art workshop. Here is a sample from November 8th. Note that in the new form of Dainik Jagran Website a fixed link to it seems to behave in an odd way, it links to a particular story, but the related links on the page link to today's stories, at least I think that is what is happening.

Meaningful effort to tell the date of the enlightenment from the sun's light
Bodhgaya, November 8th 2006 (Dainik Jagran). In the 'Buddha Enlightenment' workshop Gavoti of France through his art is trying to prove the [date] of the 2550th anniversary of the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha. Gavoti is trying to prove from sunlight the date of when the Buddha got enlightenment. Gavoti said that in his view Buddha got 'enlightening light' in Bodhgaya. He got enlightened. Therefore I know no better topic than light. He said that by knowing when the sun light was during the last two and a half thousand years he could determine the date of the enlightenment.
Discussing the Buddha-land (Bodhgaya) Gavoti said that many people had experienced spiritual enlightenment here and it had changed their lives. He said that people can regard this as imaginary, scientific or natural. But it was true that this land had some miraculous quality which attracts people. Gavoti said in fifteen years of artistic travels it was a happy experience to come to Bodhgaya and work with other artists. He said that glimpses of various countries cultures could be seen in India. Laughing he replied to some questions saying that what could he say about that land which had given the message of peace and non-violence to the whole world. [See next article to provide context for this story -pgf.]

DM Inspects 'Buddha Enlightenment' Workshop
Bodhgaya, 8 November 2006, (Dainik Jagran). On Tuesday the Divisional Commissioner of Magadh Division Shakti Kumar Negi inspected the site of the 'Buddha Enlightenment' workshop situated in the grounds of the tourist compound. The Divisional Commissioner was welcomed to the worshop by the Director Sanjiv Sinha and the organiser Ananjay Bhusana. TheDivisional Commissioner Mr Negi carefully inspected the works created by foreign and Indian artists in the workshop in the Sujata Vihar (The Tourist Bungalow). Mr Negi had a heart to heart conversation with Brian Mulville (?) of the Royal Academy Schools Gallery of London. After which he went to see each of the works and artists in the compound. He expressed approval of the art works. The Director Sanjiv Sinha and the organiser Ananjay Bhusana said that considerable help had been given by the Divisional Commissioner Mr Negi. Due to this the morale had been raised of the artists, painters and organising team by the visit of Mr Negi.

Tourist Season Knocks on the Door, Tibetans spread out their wares
Bodhgaya, 8 November 2006, (Dainik Jagran). The tourist season has knocked on Bodhgaya's door and on the eastern fringe of the Kalacakra field Tibetan merchants have given new forms to their concerns. On the one hand the considerable attraction for the tourists of the Tibetan refugee market has opened. On the other hand nearby countless restaurants serving Tibetan food are being set up. However, traditional minded [sanatan dharmi, could also be understood to mean Hindu] people only venture into them by mistake and it is only modern minded people who take tea and snacks in them. But in these restaurants a great number of foreign tourists can be seen. In the special 'Menus' of these restaurants are tea, momos, batata [not a word I know, potatoes?, or a way of talking about chocho?] and other things, which are awarded the title of tasty by Tibetan and foreign tourists. Due to this the restaurants are crowded until late into the night. Not only this but also the Tibetan intoxicating liquid beverage 'Chang' is also much in demand. For the Chang drinkers along with the Chang they enjoy watching English Medium TV in the restuarants. Bodhgaya circle office workers say that in the tourist season not only from the restuarants but also other businesses the office gets a fairly good revenue.

Foreign Tourists Enjoy Diwali
Bodhgaya. (Dainik Jagran) On Diwali on Saturday night at the International Tourist Site of Bodhgaya local and foreign tourists let off lots of fireworks. The scenes of firework displays could be seen a lot outside of hotels where foreign tourists were staying. The letting off of fireworks went on until late at night. Foreign tourists mostly let off colourful fireworks or ones that spread coloured light in the sky, rather than very loud ones. Foreign tourists staying in small hotels were guided by guides in understanding the importance of Diwali and showed an interest in letting off fireworks. However, several tourists were also seen in the market who did not like the loud noises. They walked around covering their ears. Several also showed their interest in fireworks and let them off. Some foreign tourists eating in restaurants also wished locals 'Happy Divali'!

Audio files: Teachers Absent, Cloth Giving Ceremony at Mahabodhi, Independent Tibet
Melbourne, October 17. (Peter Friedlander) If you care to listen to myself and Anandini Dar explaining how to read a Hindi newspaper story then check out subfm where you can listen to recordings of webcasts we have been doing. Webcasts 20, 21, 22 and 23, which we did today all have Bodhgaya related stories, along with other news stories. For a listing of the stories we have covered see this page Reading Hindi Newspapers.

Demonstration demands investigation into income of NGOs
Bodhgaya, October 16, 2006. (Dainik Jagran).
Under the banner of a 'public protest' hundreds of people demonstrated today and chanted slogans loudly near the Temple Management Committee office demanding an investigation into the incomes and activities of the scores of NGOs operating in Bodhgaya.
During the demonstration slogans against the DM were chanted. The demonstration was led by Arup Brahmachari and Vijay Kumar. They said that there are about six hundred NGOs in Bodhgaya which are snatching foreign income in the name of the uplift of the poor. But the situation of the poor in the area has not changed at all. They also said there are institutions which oppress children and which have leaders who are millionaires. Mr Brahmachari said that the institutions should be investigated by the CBI or a retired judge.

"Tourist Season Knocking on the door of Bodhgaya"
Melbourne, October 5, 2006. I noticed today that the Dainik Jagran has updated the look of its website, you can see the new look here. One of the stories today was about how preparations are being made for the new tourist season in Bodhgaya. I discussed one of the stories in a webcast today on SubFm, and in a few days an mp3 of that discussion will be available on the website.

World Class Golf Course for Bodhgaya?
Melbourne, October 4, 2006, In a story by Nirmala George of AP in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette there is a great account of a visit to Bodhagaya which includes the following. "A year-long celebration of the 2,550th anniversary of the Buddha's death, called the Parinirvana, began in May, but plans to gradually upgrade facilities will unfold over 25 years. The detailed blueprint includes numerous luxury and budget hotels around the Buddhist circuit. It also includes a world-class 18-hole golf course in Bodh Gaya and luxurious spas, said Manoj Srivastava, who heads Bihar's state-run tourism development corporation. If that seems odd logic -- bringing the hedonism of golf to a land steeped in both spiritualism and poverty -- Srivastava disagrees. "While Bihar's rich trove of Buddhist treasures serve the spiritual quest, the average traveler is also looking to relax," he said." read full article.

Bodhi Tree Branch Cut?
Melbourne, July 24, 2006 (Peter Friedlander). A number of stories alleging that a branch was recently cut from the Bodhi tree and sold to foreigners recently appeared, and were promptly denied. On July 20th Hindustan Times carried this story as Branch of holy tree chopped off in Bodh Gaya.An interesting take on it, including a mention of selling a branch to a Japanese Tourist, and that the demand for an investigation was made by Rabri Devi, ex CM of Bihar appears in the Patna Daily of July 23rd under the heading Conflicting Reports on Mahabodhi Tree Status. Stories such as Bodhi tree controversy from Time.now.tv also show how the story developed, and those like No damage to Bodhi tree: Govt, from DNA India show how it then fizzled out. The Dainik Jagran Hindi reports were very similar and did not seem to add much more. The Mahabodhi Temple Site also contains, as of 21st July, an appeal for people not to believe in this apparently completely unfounded rumour.


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