Tengapani (Arunachal Pradesh), Dec.4: The 2,568-year-old relics of Lord Buddha arrived in the religious township of Chongkham in Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh, predominantly inhabited by Mahayana Buddhists, on its third leg in the state here today.
The relics, escorted by Tourism Minister Pema Khandu, curator K K S Deori, assistant chemist Satish Kumar Jaiswal and head modeller R K Rai of National Museum and group of rinpoches were received by thousands of devotees, including monks led by Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Ninong Ering, Rajya Sabha member Mukut Mithi, a host of ministers, including Finance Minister Chowna Mein, lawmakers, tourism secretary Sonam Chombey, Lohit deputy commissioner Rajiv Takuk and Superintendent of Police Tume Amo.
The devotees pulled the car carrying National Museum staff holding the relics in a procession for few kilometres. Many spread new cloths with flower on the road for the lord’s blessing and the devotees on both side of the road jostled with each other to have glimpse of the relics.
A traditional welcome was given at the entrance of the Golden Pagoda where it was installed in a bullet proof glass enclosure.
A massive security blanket was spread around and within the venue for the safety of the national treasure, taken out in India for the second time after Ladakh. One it was taken to Sri Lanka for exposition too.
Before the rituals by the rinpoches, Mein, who founded the Pagoda in February 2010, told the gathering that the people of Arunachal Pradesh have been blessed, as the relics would bring greater welfare, peace and prosperity for the entire living beings on the earth.
He lauded Union Cultural Affairs Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch, National Museum Director General Venu V, Rev T G Rinpoche, Pema and Sonam for their infinitives for the relics to reach the state.
“This is an opportunity which many not come in 100 or 200 years,” he said, adding lakh of devotees from within and outside the state are expected during the eight-day exposition beginning from December 6 next.
Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and Lok Sabha member Takam Sanjoy are scheduled to pay their obeisance to the relics.
“This is a lifetime opportunity and the participants are witnessing history. With the arrival of Lord Buddha the land and the people have been blessed,” the District Collector added.
Though 400-year-old Tawang Monastery had put this Himalayan in global tourism map but the arrival of the relics brought the religious tourism of the state to forefront. However, religious tourism has been redefined by this unique event.
Over 30,000 devotees of the epistle of peace visited the Tawang Monastery (November 19-24) to pay their obeisance to the relics during its exposition there while over 40,000 visited Bomdila Monastery (Nov 24-Dec 4)believing that Lord Buddha had arrived their places.
At a national seminar organized by Rajiv Gandhi University few years ago, in my paper on ‘Buddhist tourism’ I had described monks being the globe trotters could prove to be the best ambassadors of state tourism across the world. By Pradeep Kumar (ANI)