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BSP votes for image change before UP polls

Author: Archna Shukla
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: January 2, 2012
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/bsp-votes-for-image-change-before-up-polls/894655/0

The 32nd Kalachakra began on Saturday with the Dalai Lama praying for world peace and urging Buddhists who have assembled here from across nations to “use your 10 days to imbibe Lord Buddha. We are blessed to be at his land.”

Without referring to China in his address, the Dalai Lama said that people coming from Tibet would have “time to study and reflect” during the religious festival. The Dalai Lama added that he and Tibet represented truth and the truth would always prevail.

Lakhs of people — from the US to Europe to Asian countries — have congregated here for Kalachakra 2012. This small township near Gaya is virtually painted maroon with presence of Buddhists monks.

“This event is really big. We are eagerly looking forward to the Dalai Lama’s preachings,” said Nawang Choephel, a Tibetan documentary film-maker who has recently become a US citizen.

Said a photographer from Belgium, Johan Mangeslchots: “We have three monasteries in our country and the Dalai Lama has visited these a couple of times. There is an interest in Buddhism and Bodhgaya in Belgium.”

The number of people attending the religious festival can be gauged by the fact that all hotels in and around Bodhgaya and Gaya are booked and people from adjoining villages have rented out their houses. Several villagers are even staying at makeshift structures, having put their houses on rent to tourists at pretty high rates. More than 5,000 tents are occupied by visitors. While a 10x10 ft tent comes for Rs 2,000 for 10 days, a village room costs Rs 500 per day, and a hotel room can cost one up to Rs 10,000 per night. There is long queue for passes to enter the Mahabodhi temple and Kalachakra maidan. People had to wait for as long as five hours to reach the site.

With Intelligence agencies cautioning about a threat to the Dalai Lama, the Kalachakra Management Committee has been cautious in issuing passes. In fact, mediapersons from around the world had to wait for long to get their passes issued by the authorities.

Mangeslchots rued, “There’s no logic or reason offered for this delay, we had to just wait.”

Not everyone was complaining though. Mala, a beggar, has come from Ranchi, with her son. “Such a big event doesn’t happen too often,” she said.
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