Buddhist project aims to develop pilgrimage in state

by Pranava K Chaudhary, Time of India, Sep 22, 2011

PATNA, India -- Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (deemed to be university) in collaboration with the department of youth, art and culture has initiated a project titled, 'Revival of the Ancient Buddhist Pilgrimage in Bihar'.

The project has twin objectives of taking the existing Buddhist pilgrimage to other lesser known, but important places associated with the Buddha and facilitate community-heritage interface.

An event calendar has been prepared to generate awareness regarding the Buddhist heritage of Bihar. To begin with, on the occasion of the World Tourism Day on September 27, Mahavihara is organizing a day-long workshop titled, 'Engaged Buddhism'.

To facilitate community-heritage interface, the project has conceptualized 'Mah? Kassapa' award, to felicitate individuals and institutions working towards protection and preservation of ancient Buddhist remains at villages.

Mah? Kassapa, the first patron of the Buddhist 'sangha', had convened the first Buddhist Council after the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha.

In its inception year, the project committee has decided to honour Ram Pukar Singh for his contributions towards protection, preservation and awareness generation with regard to heritage of Chechar in Vaishali.

Another highlight of the event is the inauguration of a moving thematic exhibition titled, 'A Journey Through Bihar to Vihara'. The pictorial exhibition is an effort to retrace the journey of Vihara to Bihar and generate awareness on the sublime wanderings of the Buddha in Bihar.

The Buddhist remains of Bihar is spread across in its villages and most of the time the community of the village is unaware of its social and economical value. Tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Bihar can provide economic benefit while reinforcing the common identity of the community and strengthening socio-economic aspirations.

"In the past, we have organized thematic exhibitions featuring various aspects of the Buddhist heritage of Bihar. In continuity of the past efforts we are organizing an exhibition titled, 'A Journey Through Bihar to Vihara'. The focus of the exhibition is on the footprints of the Buddha and its dynamics with the local community," said project coordinator Dipankar Lama.

"The main objective is to instill a sense of pride among the community about the existence of tangible and intangible heritage in their vicinity. We also want to reach those who support the preservation of cultural heritage in this region so that we can plan the roadmap which will enable us to jointly envision and ensure a future for the cultural heritage of Bihar," Lama said.