New Delhi : India today celebrated its Buddhist heritage with President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending greetings of Asadha Poornima and Guru Poornima to Indians and the global Buddhist community.
The day marks the establishment of the Sangha, on a full-moon day of the month of Asadha, in the Indian Sun calendar at the ‘Deer Park’, Ṛṣipatana in the current day Sarnath, near Varanasi, India. This is popularly also known as the day of the First Turning of Wheels of Dharma and is the second most important- sacred day of observance for Buddhists, after Vesak Buddha Poornima.
Speaking on the Ashadha Purnima-Dhamma Chakra Day celebrations organised by the Ministry of Culture with its grantee body International Buddhist Confederation , President Ram Nath Kovind said “Buddhism goes much beyond the nearly 550 million formally ordained followers of the faith. People belonging to other faiths & even sceptics & atheists feel attracted to the teachings of Buddha”. He further stressed that the application of Buddhist values and principles in addressing issues of global concern will help in healing the world and making it a better place.
In his virtual address on the auspicious day, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised on the relevance of the teachings of Lord Buddha as humanity faces the Covid pandemic as the biggest challenge before it. Wishing all a very Happy Dhamma Chakra Day and Ashadha Purnima, he reminded that today we also celebrate Guru Purnima and on this day Lord Buddha gave his first knowledge to the world after attaining enlightenment, adding , “it is natural that knowledge becomes synonymous with the welfare of the world when Buddha himself is the preacher”. The Prime Minister stated that when Buddha speaks, words are not just said, but they are the Dhamma and that Buddha’s principles bind countries together, strengthening humanity. “Today, the nations of the world are also holding each other’s hands and helping each other in the times of pandemic, following the path of service to humanity as shown by Buddha”, he added.
The Prime Minister also lauded IBC and its global members and partners for mobilizing critical Covid Aid of equipment and material under its Care with Prayer initiative.
Earlier in the morning, a Boddhi Tree planting ceremony by President , was held in the Rashtrapati Bhawan lawns, to mark the day. Union Minister of Culture, Tourism & DoNER, G. Kishan Reddy in the presence of Ministers of State for Culture Sh Arjun Ram Meghawal & Smt Meenakshi Lekhi , handed over the sacred sapling of the Holy Bodhi Tree especially brought from Bodh Gaya to the President Mr Ramnath Kovind for planting at a prominent spot. He also presented a memento of the Lord Buddha to the President .
Later, in his video address the Sh Kishan Reddy , highlighted that as India will be observing its 75th year of Independence & we will be celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the contribution of the Buddha and Buddhist heritage will form an important part of these celebrations.
He also reiterated that India is home to Buddhism & many ancient sites and stupas are being redeveloped and preserved all over the country so that pilgrims from around the world can visit these historic places. “We support the Buddhist community to preserve its heritage and share the ageless wisdom of Buddha with all .Asadha Poornima is a sacred day for both the Buddhists and the Hindus. It is also known as Guru Poornima when we express gratitude to our gurus”, he added.
The Prime Minister of Vietnam’s message was read out by Mr Vu Chien Thang, Minister of Internal Affairs & Head of Department for Religious Affairs. The Prime Minister of Bhutan Dr. Lotay Tshering, gave a video address. Video messages were received from supreme heads of Sangha, eminent masters & scholars from several countries.
The day is also celebrated by Buddhists all over the world, as the day of Dharma Chakra Par-vattana or “Turning of the Wheel of Dharma”. The event was directly relayed through webcast from the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple Sarnath, the Maha Bodhi Temple, Bodhgaya (India) and chanting ceremonies from Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini, Nepal.Simultaneous prayer event was organized by Vietnam Buddhist Sangha at Quan Su Pagoda in Hanoi attended by senior most monks of Vietnam.
At the event organised at the Buddha Jayanti Park, New Delhi, the venerable sanghas chanted the Manglagatha under the Bodhi Tree which had been planted in 1965. The Minister of State for Culture, Mrs Meenakashi Lekhi while addressing the gathering reminded everyone that the teachings of the Buddha were more relevant today to overcome stress and violence. The path of truth, compassion and coexistence with all sentinel beings was the only way forward as shown by the Buddha.
Flowers were also offered and Manglacharan was venerated by the Sangha members in the presence of the Holy Buddha Relics at the National Museum, New Delhi.
Inspired by the Buddha’s holistic and righteous teachings several nations come together to help India and Nepal in times of the Covid crisis under the International Buddhist Confederation’s initiative ‘Care for Prayer’. A short film on IBCs Covid Aid initiative regarding providing several hundred lifesaving equipment, machines, kits and oxygen cylinders which were distributed to various needy communities and in remote areas of the country.
Video Messages were received from Supreme Heads and Patriarchs of Buddhist Sangha from Thailand, Cambodia, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and many others.
All the above celebrations & proceedings was watched live by millions of Buddhists from around the world .