The 10th International Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony is currently under way under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment. The ceremony, which began on 2 December and will continue until 12 December, is sponsored by the Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International (LBDFI) and organized by the International Tipitaka Chanting Council (ITCC), and is led this year by the Cambodian sangha. The International Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony was inaugurated in 2006 in Bodhgaya on the occasion of the 2,550th Buddha Jyanti. The event’s organizers state on the website: “The aim of the Ceremony is to chant sequential sections from the Pali Canon each year, so that the entire Canon is chanted by the international Sangha under the Bodhi tree.” This year’s program features the recitation of the 8th, 9th, and 10th sections of the Anguttara Nikaya of the canon, dedicated to “World Peace and Inner Harmony.”
Around 3,000 Buddhist monks and lay followers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam are expected to participate in the event. The sangha of Indonesia has also joined this year, bringing the number of participating countries to ten.
The opening ceremony began with a colorful procession of pilgrims in traditional dress from a 10,000-square-foot tent on the Kalachakra grounds, after which participants began chanting the Tipitaka under the Bodhi tree. An Australian participant, Phukhal De Kamal, remarked, “Today is [the] Tipitaka ceremony and everybody all around the world, I believe, has come here to celebrate. I am also very happy to be here as well.”
Over the ten days, international sangha members chant throughout the day while senior monks offer Dhamma talks every evening. A few selected practitioners meditate in the Mahabodhi compound overnight.
Additionally, on 13 December, the ITCC, in association with the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), the International Buddhist Confederation, and Sarvodaya, has organized a 13-kilometer walk along the “Buddha Path” from Jethian in Gaya to Venuban in Rajgir. Thousands of monks and devotees from across the globe are expected to take part. One important highlight of the walk, led by international monastics under the banner of the ITCC, will be the planting of 700 bamboo saplings of different varieties when participants arrive at Venuban, the Bamboo Grove.
“ITCC organizes Tipitaka Chanting in Bodhgaya every year . . . and it has agreed to send its 700 member monks and nuns for the walk this year,” said the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara’s director, R. Panth. “The walk is an initiative to revive the walking pilgrimage as a new tool for awakening of the Buddhist heritage in Bihar. We are getting [a] good response for the walk from as many as 11 countries across the globe.”
The chanting ceremony’s sponsor, the LBDFI, is dedicated to the rebuilding of the Buddha Sasana (the Buddha’s legacy) in India. To achieve its aims, the foundation has adopted a four-fold strategy of working to promote pilgrimage, to develop the Buddhist Circuit, to educate monks, and to support Buddhist publications.