Lumbini:

Lumbini is awash with red, with the red robes of Buddhists who have congregated here from all over Nepal and other countries to offer the peace puja in this birthplace of Gautam Buddha. More than 3000 Buddhists from all over Nepal, India, China, Bhutan, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile, Taiwan and other countries are daily offering the Shakya Monlam puja at the Tashi Rabten Ling Gumba for world peace for the last four days.

The Buddhists have been offering the puja for world peace for the last 16 years without a break. Guru Takya Shishu Lama at the gumba said that the puja would continue for another seven days. Guru Lama said Tara puja is offered every morning, which is considered necessary for the auspicious beginning of any endeavour that needs to be undertaken. The puja begins at nine in the morning and continues till 5:00 pm. The rituals include Manjushree Sangiti Samant Bhadra recitation, Pranidhan recitation, and rounds off with the Bodhi Shanti recitation for world peace. Guru Lama said that Shakya Trichen Rinpoche, the head of Sakya tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, from Dehradun, India is also among those offering the puja. Dorje Lama of Bhutan said he was overjoyed to be able to offer the puja for world peace.

Lumbini is bustling with the arrival of the Buddhist monks and devotees.

Last but not the least, Lumbini is also witnessing a tourist boom. The Lumbini Development Fund (LDF) information department said that overall 20,000 tourists visited Lumbini on December 1. The tourists visited Mayadevi temple and the Holy Garden also.

The highest number of domestic tourists came from Birgunj in Parsa district, Hetauda in Makwanpur district and Tanahaun, Kaski, Syangja, Palpa, Gulmi, Dang, Kapilvastu and Nawalparasi districts. LDF information officer Keshav Chaudhari said 500 foreign tourists visited Lumbini yesterday.

“Yesterday the number of tourists including domestic and foreign was 20,000. Daily, 3,000 to 5,000 tourists are pouring in,” said Chaudhari.

According to the LDF information department, last November 6,762 foreign tourists visited Lumbini. This November, the number of foreign tourists rose to 11,345. In 2006, 42,823 tourists visited Lumbini between January and November. This year, 62,919 tourists visited Lumbini between January and November. The majority of foreign tourists were from India. “If bandhs, strikes and agitations had not been so frequent, the number of tourists would have been much higher,” said Chaudhari.