Buddhist festival kicks off in Arunachalís Dirang Valley

by Naresh Mitra,TNN, Oct 2, 2015

GUWAHATI, India -- The mist-covered mountains surrounding Dirang valley in Arunachal Pradesh's West Kameng district woke up to the soothing notes of Buddhist chants and lama dances as the five-day-long Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav kicked off on Thursday.

The festival is part of the Centre's plans to organize more Buddhism-centric events to promote the religion circuit tourism as the country tries to foster stronger links with South East Asia.

The Union minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju, who is also the local MP, inaugurated the fest that will showcase lesser-known Buddhist art forms and culture.

Director of the Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies (CIHCS) Geshe Ngawang Tashi Bapu said over a thousand people, including Buddhist scholars, art practitioners and lamas, flocked to the Dirang stadium to witness one of the grandest religious festivals in the state.

The region holds enormous significance for Buddhists across the world. The 400-year-old Galden Namgey Lhatse monastery is located in neighbouring Tawang district and is one of the most important Buddhist monasteries after Potala Palace in Lhasa in China's Tibet autonomous region. Tawang is also the birth place of the sixth Dalai Lama. "The event began with auspicious chants and lama dances. The mahotsav is a platform to showcase various art forms associated with Buddhist culture," said Bapu, one of organizers of the event. Discourses on Buddhist philosophy and modern science marked the first day of the event, he added.

Choh-nga choea-pa (butter sculpture), coloured sand mandala artwork and thangka painting, integral to Tibetan Buddhism, will be showcased at the festival. Besides, monastic dances, chants, religious discourses, meditation and yoga sessions will be part of the much-anticipated event.

A similar festival will be held in Bangalore in the first week of December.