Thursday, July 11, 2013

Monks protest Bodh Gaya attack

About 300 monks and disciples rallied at the United Nations and the Indian embassy in Bangkok on Wednesday demanding safety for the historic Bodh Gaya temple complex in India after bomb attacks on Sunday.
Monks from Thailand and other countries rally at the United Nations on Ratchadamneon Avenue on Wednesday calling for safety at the Bodh Gaya temple complex in India. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The protesters, most of them monks from 10 countries and led by the World Fellowship of Buddhists, held placards and banners condemning the attackers.

They submitted a letter to the UN and the Indian government urging better protection for the Unesco World Heritage site and the Mahabodi shrine in Bihar state, also in India.

In Sri Lanka, local and foreign monks also protested outside the Indian High Commission in Colombo, demanding extra security for the shrine in India.

Monks from Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Vietnam, along with Sri Lankan monks, demonstrated for more than an hour before handing a petition to commission officials.

"We want the Indian government to pay additional attention to protecting places of Buddhist interest such as the Mahabodi shrine," a spokesman for a local Buddhist organisation Bodhbala Sena, or Buddhist Force, Ven Galagodaatte Ganasara said.

The protesters called for a speedy inquiry into Sunday's bombing of the temple, which injured at least two monks.

Bodh Gaya is popular among Thai monks and Buddhists. Sri Lankans have been advised to refrain from undertaking pilgrimages to the Mahabodi site for at least one week.

The complex contains temples, a celebrated 24-metre statue of the Buddha, and dozens of monasteries housing monks from around the world. It also contains the holy Bodhi tree, where Buddhists believe the Lord Buddha reached enlightenment in 531 BC.

After his meditations beneath the tree, the Lord Buddha is said to have devoted the rest of his life to teaching.

The complex houses multiple shrines marking the places where the Lord Buddha is said to have spent time after his enlightenment. He founded an order of monks before dying, aged 80.

Indian authorities said 13 bombs were placed and 10 exploded on Sunday. They arrested a man on Monday. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing.
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