By Masood Butt,
DIIR press coordinator, Kalachakra
Bodh Gaya, January 3 – Preparation for the 28th Kalachakra Initiation Ceremony is underway with complete devotion and determination. The Secretary of Department of Religion and Culture, Mr. Thupten Tashi, who has been stationed in Bodh Gaya with his staff members for more than a month, led a team of members, including Mr. Ngodup Dhongchung, Secretary of Department of Security, Mr. Sonam N. Dagpo, Additional Secretary of the Department of Information & International Relations, and Mr. Chonjor Palden, Additional Secretary of Department of Health, on a inspection tour of all the sites of the programme venue and took note of the final touches to be given to all the arrangements to be made for this nine-day grand Kalachakra Initiation ceremony beginning from January 12 in Bodh Gaya.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has accepted to perform the Kalachakra pooja in Bodh Gaya at the request of the International Buddhist Council, Bodh Gaya, the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association, the Cholsum Namdrel Drikzug, Dharamshala, the Kyirong Association, Dharamshala, the Tibetan Youth Congress, the Lodrik Tsokchung, Nepal, and the thirteen Tibetan families based in India, Nepal and Switzerland. This is the third Kalachakra pooja conducted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya. The first and second Kalachakra pooja in Bodh Gaya was held in 1974 and 1985 respectively. His Holiness arrives in Bodh Gaya on January 7.
Thousand of devotees and pilgrims, including monks and nuns, from all over India, Nepal, Bhutan and other countries have already arrived in Bodh Gaya to attend this year’s Kalachakra pooja. They make their presence felt while circumambulating the Great Stupa in Bodh Gaya. Foreigners from many different countries have added to this number. The Department of Religion and Culture of Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamshala, India, which organises this Kalachakra pooja, expects many devotees more to arrive during the next few days, and are well prepared to meet all the logistical arrangements to accommodate them during their stay in Bodh Gaya. The Department is grateful to the State Government of Bihar and the local administration of Gaya District for extending their full support and cooperation to meet the logistical needs of the devotees attending the Kalachakra pooja. It also expresses its appreciation to the local people for extending all possible assistance and cooperation to the organiser as well as the devotees arriving here.
Three tent camps have been set up for accommodating the devotees. Camp one is at the Rajpur Road opposite Burmese temple. Out of 400 tents in this camp, over 150 have already been occupied. Camp two with 300 tents are located behind the Archaeological Survey of India’s Museum. Seventy tents from this camp have been reserved for the devotees from Tibet. Camp three is set up behind the Thai temple. All the camps are provided with running water, water pumps, electricity, toilets, and a small clinic by the local administration. A ration shop will be opened in each camp soon, which will provide groceries, daily necessities and kerosene oil at reasonable prices to the devotees. One fire service vehicle will be stationed in each camp and the two will be parked near the Kalachakra Maidan. Besides these, the Department of Health of Central Tibetan Administration is holding a free medical camp near the Kalachakra Maidan. The doctors of the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute are providing treatment according to the traditional Tibetan healing system. Ambulances are available at the main clinic near the Kalachakra Maidan.
The Kalachakra temple at the Kalachakra Maidan has been repaired and refurnished. The perimeter of the Kalachakra Maidan has been expanded from the three sides to increase its capacity and fenced with tin sheets. Entry gates have been marked with numbers. Gate number 2 has been allotted for the entry of Indians, foreigners, and media persons attending the Kalachakra pooja. The Indians and foreigners, who wish to attend the Kalachakra pooja, are registered for the entry pass issued by the Department of Security of Central Tibetan Administration. A temporary office for this purpose has been put up in the courtyard of Mahayana Guest House. Two passport photos and valid passport are required for the registration. The issue of press passes will begin from January 8th morning in the courtyard of Mahayana Guest House.
Volunteers are working round the clock to receive the devotees at the Gaya Railway Station. They also assist them to book the local transportation from the station to the Bodh Gaya. The Information and Announcement Centre put up in Bodh Gaya for the Kalachakra pooja began its first announcement on the first January with a new year’s greetings to all the devotees and local people and foreigners as well.
Besides the Kalachakra pooja organised by the Department of Religion & Culture, different sects of Tibetan Buddhism are holding special prayer meetings called as Monlam. Kagyu Monlam, which began on December 31, is being held every day under the Bodhi Tree at the main stupa. The Kagyu monlam will come to end on January 7. On the same day, the Gelug Monlam will begin which will continue till January 11 at the Kalachakra Maidan.
The Department of Religion and Culture has put up a temporary office at the Mahayana Guest House in Bodh Gaya to coordinate all the preparatory work to be done for organising the Kalachakra pooja. Its telephone number is +91-631-2201165.
Contact: Sonam N. Dagpo, Additional Secretary
Masood Butt, Press Coordinator
Department of Information & International Relations
Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala, India
Camped at: Mahayana Guest House, Bodh Gaya
Tel: +91-631-2200675, 2200756