The Great Shravasti Buddhist Cultural Assembly 2015 - Opening Ceremony
At 10:00am His Holiness arrived at the gate to receive a warm welcome from Mr. K.T Gyaltsen, honorary secretary of the organising committee of the Great Shravasti Buddhist Cultural Assembly 2015.His Holiness offered a khatak and made a lamp offering at the thangka of Lord Buddha. Sri. Vikram Singh (IAS) MD, Mr. Haji Mohammed Ranzam (MLA), Sri. Gangnath Tripathi (SP), together with representatives from Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Ladakh were also present. His Holiness and guests again performed the light offering ceremony, followed the Mangalacharan-sutra chanted by monks and nuns from the Drikung Kagyu Institute.
At 10:30, Ven. Khenpo Rangdol gave a speech welcoming all the representatives and participants at the event. At 11:00am, the secretary, Mr. K.T. Gyaltsen, gave a speech focusing on the importance of Buddhist culture and its heritage in India, and around the world. Prof. Wangcuk Dorji Negi gave a speech explaining the meaning of Shravasti and how it came into existence. It has two meanings: 1) shravan means 'to listen' to the Word of the Buddha, vasti means 'place'. 2) in Pali, the name is sabba-asti, sabba means 'all' and asti means 'to exist', thus 'everything is there', or 'every blessed thing is there'.
At 11:40am, Sri. Vikram Singh said he would support the future development of Shravasti as a pilgrimage site where many people will come to visit. This will support the local community, improve the economy. The local government shall support His Holiness to promote the festival in the future, and improve Shravasti as a world Buddhist site.
Thereafter Mr. Phuntsok Ladakhi sanga song on the Glorious Dharmadhatu, as an offering to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang. This was followed by speeches by Jang Tulku Rinpoche from Bhutan and others.
At 12:40am, His Holiness presented his vision of the event, as an important non-sectarian Buddhist Prayer Festival, to be held annually from now on. He spoke of the various kinds of support that will be needed for its organization, and expressed auspicious greetings to all those taking part. This was followed by a thank you speech from Ven.Khenchen Nima Gyaltsen.
After lunch His Holiness and all participants celebrated the birthday of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang which falls on this very day, coinciding with the 'Day of the Descent of Lord Buddha' festival (Lhabab Duchen) and His Holiness expressed wishes for long life, peace and happiness for all.
At 3:00pm, together with the huge gathering of participants, His Holiness visited Jetavana, gave the transmission of The Sutra of Auspicious Blessing and made light offerings and prayers for world peace.
After dinner, the first evening of a series of cultural shows performed by different Himalayan peoples was presented by dancers and artists from Limi, Lapchi and Lumbini in Nepal. The entertainment was enjoyed by all.