Buddhist front takes root, welcomes all

Newindpress.com, August 29 2005

BHUBANESHWAR, India -- For the 1.2 lakh Buddhist population of the State, the 15-month-old Orissa Buddhist Front (OBF) has offered a ray of hope to revive the lost glory of a religion that had tremendous influence on the region for several centuries.

Of late, the Government has realised the relevance of the remains of Buddhist heritage in Orissa. But its efforts are focused more on commercial gains through tourism promotion, observed OBF general secretary Akhil Kumar Sahoo.

The Front has been formed with the principal objective of protecting the interests of the Buddhists of the State while promoting the principles of Buddhism among the people, he added.

OBF has identified 17 villages where Buddhism is being practised traditionally. However, the Front which took off in April last year with 22 people representing various village level Buddhist bodies from five villages - Maniabandh, Nuapatna, Ragadi, Mohammedpur of Cuttack district besides Pipli of Puri district also has members from the twin-cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

?We welcome any Indian who has love and respect for our religion to become a member of the Front. However, non-Buddhists are barred from being the members of the management,? Sahoo explained.

Celebration of the jayanti (birth anniversary) of Lord Buddha and Mahaguru Padmasambhava, regarded as the second Buddha, have been the two major events being hosted by the Front in the Capital.

?Quite a few people are aware that Padmasambhava was born into the royal family of the then Sambhal kingdom (now in Sambalpur region of Orissa) in 8th century.

He had named the Sikkim State where he is worshipped as the State deity. We intend to set up his temple in the city soon and popularise his teachings. The Sikkim Buddhist Association and Sikkim Buddhist Duechen Organisation are supporting our activities,? revealed Front president Gouri Kumar.

OBF has ambitious plans to construct temples in all the 17 Buddhist villages of the State to enable the villagers to perform their religious rituals.

?It is shocking to find that the people have no common place to gather and conduct their religious practices. We brought this to the notice of the Government and accordingly the tehsildars concerned have been asked to provide us government land to take up construction of the community centres,? informed the general secretary.

?The State Government has been spending large sums for promotion of Buddhist tourism circuits in the State. We hope, the promotional plans would include these villages where Buddhism has been a way of life since time immemorial,? Sahoo pointed out.

For queries and membership, OBF general secretary can be contacted on 0674-2581185.