Buddha Jayanti observed in Siliguri

Statesman News Service, May 19, 2008

SILIGURI, India -- Buddha Jayanti was celebrated amidst fanfare in Siliguri today. The day was a special one for the devout Buddists residing all over Darjeeling district and the celebrations were observed at the number of stupas in the district.

A large number of people, including children and youth principally marched through the city lanes carrying the holy Buddhist scriptures on their head. The devotees thronged the decorated stupas from early morning.

“With the Western world having turned to materialism, India the hoary custodian of perennial spiritual knowledge remains the only refuge for the developed souls. Those from the Occident dissatisfied with the materialistic world turn to this country in quest of solace. And, Buddhism still fascinates the West,” was how Mr Carr, a professor from Canada described his presence at a Buddhist temple at Salugara today.

Mr Karma Wangchuk, an eminent Buddhist from the Darjeeling hills, who looks after the administration of a stupa in Siliguri, said that there were around 10, 000 Buddhists in the hills and the number was steadily increasing. “It is pathetic to notice the traditionally spiritualistic hill populace getting swept by materialism under the impact of the Western culture. Yet, this is a passing phase. The people have begun returning to their ancient roots and interest in Buddhism is being revived,” Mr Wangchuk said.

“As far as Siliguri is concerned it seems to be a confluence of ‘Ther’ and the traditional ‘Mahayan’ sects. Following the partition in 1947, a large number of Buddhists came to Siliguri from Chittagong and settled here. They were known as the ‘Baruah’ community.

They followed the ‘Ther’ sect. On the other hand, the Tamang and Gurung communities residing mostly in Pradhan Nagar and Salugara in the city have been following the traditional ‘Mahayan’ sect. But secterianism has no place in the religion they profess,” Mr Wangchuk added.