“Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav” Buddhist Festival Held in Arunachal Pradesh, India
As Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s Act East policy gets under way, a five-day “Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav” (Buddhist Cultural Grand Festival) was celebrated at the beginning of October at Dirang stadium in the picturesque Dirang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng District. The valley reverberated with the sounds of chanting lamas and Buddhist dance performances as the event showcased a variety of art forms integral to Tibetan Buddhism, including the making of a colored sand mandala and thangka painting demonstrations in addition to the chants and dances.
Organized by the Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies (CIHCS), the annual event was inaugurated on 1 October by local MP Kiren Rijiju, who is also the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs. More than 1,000 people, among them Buddhist scholars, performers, artists, and lamas, turned out for the occasion. The central government’s Act East initiative, which includes hosting such Buddhist-centric events to promote spiritual tourism, is primarily aimed at cementing cultural and diplomatic ties with the country’s neighbors in East Asia. A number of other states in India are organizing Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav events to celebrate their own Buddhist heritage as well.
Speaking at the festival, Rijiju said the government was also committed to the development of Arunachal Pradesh State: “I assure you, areas including Tezpur, Bhalukpong, and Tawang will be developed, including the road infrastructure. It will benefit the local residents,” he stated. “We have started developmental programs on power transmission and telephone network. We will provide more funds for electricity generation and I assure you that villages will get 24-hours power supply in the days to come.”
The first anniversary of the national “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” (Clean India Mission) initiated by the central government was also celebrated at the festival. The project is aimed at raising awareness of the vital importance of the construction of latrines and promoting community sanitation programs in rural areas.
CIHCS director Geshe Ngawang Tashi Bapu, meanwhile, emphasized the significance of the festival’s religious and cultural aspects. “Buddhist culture here is shared by many Southeast Asian countries. It can push India’s Act East policy for the northeast,” he said. (The Times of India)
The event is designed to attract tourists who are seeking unique spiritual and cultural experiences among the disparate ethnic groups in Arunachal Pradesh’s districts of Tawang and West Kameng. Like West Kameng, Tawang is an important area for Tibetan Buddhists, being the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama (1683–1706). Also located in the district is the 400-year-old Tawang Monastery, known as Galden Namgey Lhatse (“Celestial paradise on a clear night”) in Tibetan, one of the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world.
The Nava Nalanda Mahavihara and the Sarnath-based Central University of Tibetan Studies also organize Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav festivals annually in Bodh Gaya in the eastern state of Bihar and in Kushi Nagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, respectively. Every year since 1998, the three-day Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav celebration in Bodh Gaya co-organized by the Ministry of Tourism and the state government of Bihar has been held in the first week of February, hosting artists and performing troupes from India and other Buddhist countries such as Bhutan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Times of India reports that a similar festival will be held in the first week of December in Bangalore, capital of the state of Karnataka. As a celebration of Buddhist culture and traditions, Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav has justifiably become a popular attraction and is an affirming testament to the strength of Buddhism’s historic roots in India.
‘Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav’ celebrated with great enthusiasm in Arunachal Pradesh (ANI NEWS)
Bodh Mahotsav enthralls audience in Bodh Gaya (ANI NEWS)
Buddhist festival kicks off in Arunachal’s Dirang (The Times of India)
Arunachal’s Dirang Valley sets Oct date with divinity (The Times of India)
Bodh Sanskriti Mahotsav celebrated with great enthusiasm in Arunachal Pradesh (YouTube)