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 Sunday, 12 January, 2003, 15:47 GMT
Buddhist festival begins in India
Dalia Lama
The Dalai Lama conducting the Kalchakra prayers

More than 100,000 Buddhists have gathered for the Kalchakra festival at Bodh Gaya in the northern Indian state of Bihar.

The festival was opened by the Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Buddhists believe that Buddha attained spiritual enlightenment in Bodhgaya about 2,500 years ago.

Another spiritual leader of the Buddhists - the 17th Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorjee - is also participating in this ceremony.

Bodhgaya temple
The place of Buddha's enlightenment
The Kalchakra rituals are divided into two stages.

The first stage consists of visualising oneself as a deity and in the second stage Buddhists try to purify themselves.

According to Buddhist belief, these prayers are held to improve wisdom and attain enlightenment.

These prayers, they believe, will also help them to slow down the process of ageing

Cross

In this year's ceremony, an official publication of the Tibetan government-in-exile has been distributed among the supporters of the Dalai Lama and pro-Tibet European activists.

Headed by the Dalai Lama, the government-in-exile operates from the town of Dharamsala in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

The publication accuses China of being insensitive to the Tibetans' desire for self-rule.

What I am seeking is for the Tibetan people to be given the opportunity to have genuine self-rule in order to preserve their civilisation, religion, language and way of life to grow and thrive.

The Dalai Lama

The 38-page publication quotes the Dalai Lama as saying:

"What I am seeking is for the Tibetan people to be given the opportunity to have genuine self-rule in order to preserve their civilisation, religion, language and way of life to grow and thrive."

The publication also accuses China of playing a waiting game.

It says the Chinese Government is waiting for the Dalai Lama to pass away in the hope that his Tibetan following will disintegrate with his death.

The Dalai Lama, who won the 1989 Nobel peace prize for his non-violent campaign for the rights of Tibetan people, had earlier said that he favoured bilateral talks with China on granting autonomy to the people of Tibet under the Chinese constitution.

Meanwhile, one of the Buddhist organisations in India has demanded the expulsion of the Dalai Lama and the 17th Karmapa from the country.

Known as the Buddha-Gaya Mahabodhi Vihar Action Committee, the organisation has alleged that the Dalai Lama had a plan to permit the entry of the 17th Karmapa to the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim with the hidden support of China.

See also:

23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
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23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
18 Feb 00 | South Asia
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