February 27, 2023
International Human Solidarity Week at Bodhgaya
SABA, in conjunction with Bodhi Tree School Campus, celebrated the International Human Solidarity Week with several programs, from 13-20 December 2015.
Traditionally, the Kagyu Monlam at Bodhgaya is led by Thaye Dorje, His Holiness 17th Gyalwa Karmapa in December. Every year, the event attracts thousands of monks, nuns and lay devotees attending the auspicious occasion at the famous Mahabodhi Temple site, the place where the historical Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment.
Alongside the ongoing Monlam prayers, in 2015 SABA was active in carrying out more activities, building relationships between participants of the Monlam and members of the different communities in Bodhgaya and the surrounding regions.
Under the auspices of Karmapa, South Asia Buddhist Association and the Bodhi Tree School (a school 5km from Mahabodhi temple of Bodhgaya) jointly organized activities under the banner ‘International Human Solidarity Week’, a week packed with a series of events.
Karmapa visits the Bodhi Tree School
13th December 2015 – The first day of the program began early in the morning with a very warm welcome for Karmapa at the school campus. School director Mr. Sharma Dhirendra, coordinator of the event, and his 350 primary school students, waited eagerly for the arrival of the esteemed guest. After arrival at the campus, Karmapa paid homage to the Buddha statue inside the small school temple and expressed his appreciation for the school concept, which combines contemporary and traditional education.
The opening of the week-long celebrations was attended by the guest of honour, Vice-Chancellor of Magadh University, Prof. Dr. Md. Ishtiyaque, university students and several hundred local villagers. In their opening speeches, Karmapa, Dr. Ishtiyaque and Mr. Dhirendra highlighted human solidarity and compassion as among the supreme assets of mankind. Afterwards, 96-year old Dwaro Sundrani, the last living disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, was honoured and Karmapa and Prof. Ishtiyaque payed tribute to Gandhi’s legacy of peace and nonviolence.
The program continued with launching the ‘herbal village campaign’, organised by Bodhi Tree School to support the financial empowerment of the rural women by offering saplings to help inspire a green revolution with plantations across the rural areas. Karmapa visited the ‘Women’s Empowerment’ block on the campus and planted a sapling of a herbal tree on the campus.
On this auspicious occasion, South Asia Buddhist Association donated 500 blankets to the villagers, and shoes to all students.
Peace Painting at Mahabodhi Temple
18th December 2015 – Under the theme ‘Peace Painting under the Bodhi Tree,’ the event continued with an invitation from Karmapa to the Bodhi Tree School primary students to join the Monlam prayers and express their thoughts and wishes for a peaceful future through the medium of painting. Karmapa and the director Dhirendra Shamar appreciated the students’ work and handed each student a small gift.
Karmapa leads a Walk of Solidarity and Gratitude
19th December 2015 – Karmapa led the walk of ‘Solidarity and Gratitude’ from Karma Temple to Mahabodhi Temple. Venerable Rinpoches, devotees from all over the world, students of the Magadh University, primary students, teachers and the volunteer workers of the Bodhi Tree School all joined the walk. At the Karma Temple, before the walk started, Karmapa addressed the participants encouraging everyone to generate a great motivation during the march:
“When we support the development of non-material values, we can see clearly how values such as nonviolence, compassion, dignity, community and family can help build a more balanced and beneficial future for all of us.”
While addressing the teachers of the Bodhi Tree School, he said the emphasis and direction of education should not just be about accumulating information to serve the outer world, but to help young children nurture their innate values of wisdom and compassion for the benefit of society. Karmapa also addressed the university students, asking them to nurture their ‘Inner Wealth.’
The director of the Bodhi Tree School, Dhirendra Sharma, called the walk ‘a historic occasion’. He said the walk was a festival of gratitude and solidarity under the inspirational mentorship of Karmapa. After reaching the Mahabodhi Temple, all participants joined the aspiration prayers, together with the great assembly of monks and nuns.
Karmapa pays a second visit to the Bodhi Tree School
20th December 2015 – The conclusion of the week-long activities involved a second visit by Karmapa to the Bodhi Tree School, with the theme of interreligious exchange. Special guests included dignitaries of Gaya and members of local Hindu communities. Karmapa paid tribute to three eminent people of Gaya who had recently passed away.
The interreligious dialogue was accompanied by students’ dance performances. Afterwards, Karmapa held a question and answer session, and responded to the queries of the Magadh University students, who posed several questions about modern life and spirituality.