New Delhi, February 8 - With a view to cashing in on India's advantage of having several buddhist sites and to make a new initiative in the emerging area of spiritual tourism, India is organising a three-day International Conclave on Buddhism and Spiritual Tourism in Delhi and Bodhgaya from February 17.
The unique and the first-of-its kind conclave will begin here on February 17 with Tibetan Spiritual leader Dalai Lama delivering the keynote address and half a dozen "Sangharajas" and ten ministers from Buddhist states participating. President A P J Abdul Kalam will inaugurate the meet.
Official sources told UNI here today that more than 400 Buddhist monks, scholars, teachers and spiritual heads of Buddhist places of worship would attend from 22 countries such as Sri lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, China, Mongolia, Singapore, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangaladesh, Nepal, UK, USA, Germany and Vietnam.
''The event will further fuel the buoyancy in the tourism sector which has witnessed boom during the last two years. With the hosting of the conclave, there will be a steady stream of tourists from the predominantly Buddhist countries to see the Buddhist sites in India which were connected with the evolution of Siddhartha into Gautama Buddha 2500 years ago," the sources said.
The conclave will be held in New Delhi on the first two days when the scholars would discuss on "the Relevance of Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy in the Modern World." There would be specific discussion on "Promoting the Indian Buddhist Circuits," and "Buddhist Pilgrimage to India: Issues and Prospects." Organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the conclave will culminate on February 19 in a 'dedication ceremony' at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya (in Bihar) where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Mahabodhi temple was recently declared as a "World Heritage Site" by the UNESCO.
Sources said important delegates of the conclave would be taken in a chartered aircraft to Bodhgaya to attend the dedication ceremony during which a plaque would be unveiled there.