On Buddha’s day at Lumbini


May 13 marked Lord Buddha’s birth anniversary. And in the birthplace of Buddha, it was marked with special reverence.

This Buddha Jayanti was considered very special because it marked the Lumbini Day and the 2,550th birth anniversary of Buddha. According to the Mahayana sect, it is believed Buddha had said he would return to Earth 5,000 years after his death. This Jayanti fell on the half-way mark of Buddha’s coming.

The celebrations started at 6:00 am with a puja being performed at the Ashoka Pillar and a 1.5 ton bell was rung. People meditated and prayed at the Mayadevi temple.

This was followed by a procession in which people from various parts of the country and world had taken part. There was a team from the Jyapu community of Kathmandu complete with their dhimi baja and also a masked team from Vietnam. The air was redolent with the singing of hymns and music. At the Shanti Dip devotees burnt bundles of incense (joss) sticks and candles at the flame and carried these back with them.

After the procession, a marble tablet inscribed with Buddha’s Panchsheel in Nepali and English was unveiled. This project was undertaken under the initiative of the vice-president of the Lumbini Development Trust Suraj Vaidya.

A formal programme was held in which it was stressed that there is need to develop the Lumbini region socio-economically. It was also mentioned that the majority (70 per cent) of the area’s population is Muslim and that such a development is very urgent.

Many awards set up by LDT were given away. Sixty-eight staff members who had been with the LDT for over 20 years were given Rs 3,000 each, 10 students (girls only) received the Mayadevi Scholarship of Rs 5,000 each.

Kshiring Tashi was given a letter of appreciation for his contribution to developing the gardens of Lumbini, and Vikshu Bimalananda, who passed away on May 12, was also given a letter of appreciation posthumously.

Fifty scholarships under the LDT socio-economic development project were given to people of five areas (10 each) of the region, while bio-gas distribution centres were to be set up in three places — Kudan, Kotihawa and Ramagrama.

Addressing the gathering, Ven Dr Lam said, “This should be the last year of war in Nepal.” He also said that Lumbini was a place of miracles and urged those who would be participating in the peace talks to “come and feel it”.

After this a feast was served for the monks and prasad was distributed.

A tree-planting ceremony was held after lunch and 1 lakh saplings were planted. Anyone can plant a sapling for Rs 750, and have to pay Rs 500 annually for its upkeep. The donor’s name is put on the plant while the money goes into the LDT treasury.

The stone-laying ceremony for a Cambodian monastery was also held.

Apart from these, there were handicraft stalls selling statues of Buddha, Lumbini T-shirts among other things. A free eye camp was also held that attracted a lot of people.

The locals felt the celebrations this year were not as grand as those of earlier years. They speculated that perhaps it was the political upheaval with King-appointed bodies being dissolved every other day, and maybe it was the death of the beloved Vikshu Bimalananda that had dampened the spirits.

A number of sadhus could also be seen in the crowd making it a truly Hindu-Buddhist celebration.