Buddhist monks pray for rain in Bihar

IANS, AUg 8, 2009

Patna, India -- Hundreds of Buddhist monks in Bihar have been performing special prayers and rituals at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya to appease the rain god and end the ongoing dry spell in the state.

"We began special puja from Thursday at the Mahabodhi temple of Bodh Gaya to seek blessings of god for rains. Our puja will continue till Aug 12," in-charge of Bodh Gaya centre of Mahabodhi Society of India P. Sivali Thera told IANS.

Bodh Gaya is considered the birthplace of Buddhism. Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment about 2,550 years ago at this place.

Thera said the Buddhist monks have been performing special puja for rain under the holy Bodhi tree at the temple. The monks will perform prayers for seven days under the tree.

He said monks from dozens of monasteries at Bodh Gaya and several other monks from different countries have been participating in the prayers.

Earlier, Muslims and Hindu priests performed prayers for rain at several places across the State.

Lack of rain has been a concern for millions of farmers in Bihar as transplanting of paddy seedlings has been badly hit. Bihar has recorded a 43 per cent rainfall deficit so far this monsoon season.

The State government admitted that drought-like situation was prevailing in 32 of 38 districts in Bihar. A crisis management team, headed by Chief Secretary Anup Mukharjee, was set up to suggest measures to tackle the situation.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called an all-party meeting in Patna Sunday to plan succour to farmers and check crop damages. Earlier, he held a high-level meeting Wednesday to review the situation.

The Bihar government is considering declaring at least 12 districts drought-hit. The government will declare the districts drought-hit on August 9 or 10 after ministers submit their assessment reports.

The ministers have been asked to assess the situation in their respective districts along with district officials and submit their reports at the earliest, an official said.