On first state holiday for Buddhists in city, grand Purnima plans in store

TNN | Updated: May 10, 2017, 11.03 AM IST

KOLKATA: Buddhists in the city have a new reason to rejoice. After decades of appeals and requests to the state government, right through the regime of Congress to Left Front and now Trinamool Congress, this is the first time that a state holiday has been declared on Buddha Purnima on Wednesday. This is the 2561st birth anniversary of Lord Buddha — the biggest annual occasion for those of this faith. The city has a little over 5,000 Buddhists and at least 35 monasteries.

The two oldest Buddhist monastery-cum-congregations are the Mahabodhi Society (established in 1891 by Anagarik Dharmapal, a venerated monk from Sri Lanka), and Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha that was established by Kripasaran Mahasthabir from Chittagong, just a year later. Both have joined hands for a unique celebration that started on Tuesday, also celebrating the 156th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

A light-and-sound show was organized at College Square that wove Tagore creations like ‘Malini’, ‘Chandalika’ and ‘Notir Puja’ — that have Buddha as the central theme. The show, designed by theatre group Rupnagar, will be on for the next seven days. The event saw a large turnout of people from the community in the first public programme in Kolkata to celebrate Buddha Purnima. “Now we look forward to the Centre declaring it a national holiday. A large number of South Asian countries have already done that. India should take a cue from Bangladesh, where the heads of state make arrangements to celebrate with senior monks of different Buddhist orders,” said Bhikshu Bodhipala, head of the Dharmankur Sabha.

Members of the community along with monks in the different monasteries participated in the grand preparations for Buddha Purnima ceremonies. Giant brass statues of Lord Buddha were cleaned up and arrangement of fruits, incense sticks, candles and vegetarian food was made for mass feeding. “We encourage people from all communities to visit our monasteries and be part of our festivities. Buddha’s is a message of peace that we are here to spread,” said Hemendu Bikas Chowdhury, general secretary of the Sabha and vice-president of the Society.

Monks and community members will visit Moghalmari, near Dantan in West Midnapur, on Wednesday morning. This is where a 5th century Buddhist vihara is being gradually unearthed by the state archaeology department. The excavation started in the early part of the last decade and it is assumed it might date back to the post-Gupta period.

“This is an extremely prestigious excavation and would have changed the history of ancient Bengal as we know it. However, it is unfortunate that the excavation has stopped because necessary permissions are not coming from the Archaeological Survey of India. On the occasion on Buddha Purnima, we appeal to the ASI to help start the excavation. It is of great significance to Buddhists and we hope that the work starts soon,” Chowdhury added.

A documentary film on Moghalmari, made by Abhishek Ganguly, will be screened thereafter. The celebrations will end with an all-faiths meet in the city.

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3 years after bifurcation, AP still waits for its share of antiquities

Sulogna Mehta | TNN | Updated: May 18, 2017, 02.23 PM IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when museums are coming up in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts, the one in the port city is hit by acute manpower shortage. Moreover, three years have passed since the bifurcation of AP, but thousands of antiquities belonging to AP including lakhs of coins are yet to be divided between the two states and still remains with the State Archaeology Museum in Hyderabad.

“Work is under way to set up a district archaeology museum at Vizianagaram, opposite the joint collector’s bungalow. The building is complete and we are expecting it to be inaugurated within a couple of months,” K Chitti Babu, assistant director of department of archaeology and museums, said, adding that apart from three galleries, the museum will also house a ‘Hall of Fame’ and portraits of eminent personalities and royalties from Vizianagaram.

The galleries will showcase prehistoric and excavated materials from Buddhist sites, bronze sculptures, and coinages belonging to various dynasties including those belonging to the Satavahanas, Romans and colonial era, Chitti Babu said.

“The museum will require funds worth Rs 22-24 lakh, which is being released in a phased manner. There has also been a proposal to set up another museum in the old Dutch building in Srikakulam,” he added. However, the museum in the port city has acute staff shortage. “We need at least 20-25 employees including night tourist guides, administrative and clerical staff and attendants,” Chitti Babu said and referred to another problem faced by the archaeology museums in AP.

“Thousands of objet d’art excavated or found in AP have not been divided region-wise and hence they cannot be displayed in the state archaeology museums. After bifurcation, a committee was supposed to be constituted for dividing the antiquities between the two states and proposal was sent to the government from the archaeology department to constitute this body, but still it has not materialised,” he added.

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Anthology to bring history of Ghantasala to light

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A smiling Buddha idol found in Ghantasala in 2014.

The Hindu
T. Appala Naidu
APRIL 27, 2017 00:00 IST

It will be released at Ghantasala Archaeology Museum on May 9

An anthology will be brought out by the State government on Ghantasala, a prosperous sea-borne trade centre where Buddhism flourished between the 1st century and B.C and 3rd century A.D. Marking Buddha Pournami to be celebrated on May 9, the Tourism Department in support of Buddhist monks and Krishna-district based historians will release the anthology, chronicling the rise and fall of the Buddhist site, which was first reported by renowned Archaeologist Boswell (1870-71).

According to available literature, a mound (112 meters dia and 23 feet height) in Ghantasala was first excavated by archaeologist Alexander Rae, bringing the structural remnant of a Mahachaitya to light. Deputy Speaker Mandali Buddha Prasad on Wednesday told The Hindu that the anthology on the Ghantasala village and its Buddhist connection would be released at the Ghantasala Archaeology Museum on May 9.

Historians, archaeologists, epigraphists and others including academicians who shared their association with the Buddhist site will contribute their work to the anthology. Narratives on the limestone panels, coins, antiquities and sculptural panels found here during the early excavations would be documented. Presently, the village has two locations — Museum and mound — which attract the visitors from across the globe.

Conservation

A smiling Buddha statue which was sighted by the locals in an agricultural field was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India in 2014 while a Buddha stone foot was collected from a mound and being conserved in the village.

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Karumadikuttan beckons pilgrims, tourists

R.Ramabhadran Pillai ALAPPUZHA MAY 06, 2017 06:36 IST

Kerala Buddhist Council is organising Buddha Purnima celebrations at Ambalappuzha

Karumadi, a sleepy village in Ambalappuzha, will resound with chants of Buddhist monks on May 10. A number of Buddhists will gather on the premises of a pilgrim centre where a statue, known as Karumadikuttan, has been installed.

The three-ft high black granite statue, in a sitting posture, has its left half missing. The statue has been considered by historians as part of the remnants of Buddhist culture that existed in the area centuries ago. Recognised as that of Lord Buddha, the statue is believed to be of the period between 10th and 12th century.

The statue was found from Karumadi Thodu, a stream, and was installed at the present location by Robert Bristow, a British engineer in 1930s, according to historians.

The left side of the statue is believed to have been damaged in an attack by an elephant. Though a part of the missing section was recovered from the neighbourhood, there was disapproval on affixing the same on the statue. Dalai Lama visited the site in 1965.

The site was renovated by the government two years ago. The site is at present under the Department of Archaeology.

The Kerala Buddhist Council is organising this year’s State-level Buddha Purnima celebrations in association with the department at the venue, N.Haridas Bodh, organising secretary, said.

Kerala has at least a lakh Buddhist followers, with 20 ‘sanghams’ in various districts, he says. “Buddhist monks from different States and a large number of Buddhists will assemble at the place. Chantings, meditation, and discourses will be organised as part of the celebrations,” he said.

The place is a tourist itinerary and hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists visit the place, said Karumadi Murali, former vice-president of the Ambalappuzha Block panchayat, the chief of a committee formed to renovate the pilgrim centre.

“The 10-cent site is inadequate to contain the increasing flow of tourists. A proposal to hand over more than one acre of poramboke land adjoining the site to the Department of Archaeology is pending with the authorities,” he said.Karumadikuttan beckons pilgrims, tourists

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UC Berkeley to open first university center for Silk Road study in North America

Many of the archaeological, art historical and textual remains left behind on the trade routes are now found at hundreds of remote cave sites scattered throughout far-western China in Xinjiang and Gansu. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

By Anne Brice, Berkeley News | MAY 3, 2017

The Silk Road is an evocative name that, to many, conjures up images of camel caravans and bustling bazaars — an international highway of commerce where people and cultures from the East and West intermingled and traded goods.

But scholars say that this romantic image is only a sliver of what life might have been like on the ancient Eurasian trade routes. UC Berkeley is opening the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for Silk Road Studies, the first institutionalized center in the U.S. dedicated to the study of the historical trading networks serially known as the Silk Road, thanks to a $5 million gift by two branches of the Tang family — Oscar Tang and his wife, Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, who are based in New York City, and Bay Area Berkeley alumni Nadine Tang and Leslie Tang Schilling, with their brother Martin Tang in Hong Kong.

Chinese American philanthropist Oscar Tang founded the first Tang center for excellence in Chinese Humanities, the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University in 2003. In 2015, he and his archaeologist wife founded the Tang Center for Early China at Columbia University. The new Tang Center at UC Berkeley is the latest addition for the advancement of the interdisciplinary study of the historical Silk Road.

Oscar Tang believes that the new Tang Center at Berkeley is “part of my family’s ongoing effort to enhance knowledge and understanding of the great Chinese civilization and its relationship to the rest of the world.”

The center, which launched April 29, will promote the research and teaching of the material and visual cultures that flourished along the Silk Road and formed a bridge between the many economic epicenters of Eurasia and China. A better understanding of the Silk Road’s history will also help contextualize its emergent geopolitical significance in the present time. Continue reading

Zara Fleming will host a lecture at UTas about Tibet

EXPLORED: Zara Fleming will hold a guest lecture about the history of Tibet and its art and culture at UTas. Picture: Supplied.

@tarliaj14

The Examiner (Tasmania), Tarlia Jordan
28 Apr 2017, 3 p.m.

An international specialist in Buddhist art and culture will host a lecture in Launceston.

Zara Fleming, from the UK, will discuss the development of Tibet from the 6th century right through to the present day.

Fleming has had an interest in Tibet since her seventh birthday.

“My teacher told our class about the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama into exile. Our school then raised funds for Tibetan refugee children. From then on I became fascinated by Tibet,” she said.

Fleming went on to study European art history and Museum’s

“At this time I knew nothing about Asian art and worked in antiques. Aged 21, my grandmother died and left me 200 pounds for travel, so I went overland to Nepal and worked in a school there,” she said.

“I learnt about Tibetan culture, met Tibetans escaping, met the Dalai Lama and when I returned to the UK got a job in the Victoria and Albert Museum, transferring to the Indian department.”

Fleming said Tibet was the biggest change.

“When I first went there it was the Tibet of my dreams, but today Chinese presence is everywhere,” she said.

Locals have been allowed to rebuild some of their monasteries and attend some religious ceremonies, Fleming said. Continue reading

Early Chinese Buddhist Art from Dunhuang Cave Recreated In London

from Artlyst

Dunhuang, an oasis on the ancient Silk Road in northern China, is known for its caves containing some of the world’s finest examples of Buddhist art, created over a period of 1000 years. Millions visit this UNESCO world heritage site each year.

“We are honoured to have been chosen as London’s temporary home for one of these extraordinary caves” – Dr Khaled Azzam, Director of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts

From 16 May – 15 June 2017, The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, in Shoreditch, is exhibiting a life-size, exquisitely hand-painted replica of one of the most beautiful Dunhuang caves, Mogao Cave 3. These caves form an enormous complex of temples – of which the Mogao Grottoes are the most famous. They were elaborate, beautifully painted and used as places of meditation, worship and pilgrimage from the 4th to 14th centuries. Desert sand sealed up many of these caves, but in 1900 a treasure trove of 50,000 manuscripts, hidden since the 11th century, was discovered in one of the caves, recording a vibrant history of cultural, scientific and spiritual exchange. Precious manuscripts, prints and textiles from the Dunhuang caves are now preserved by the International Dunhuang Project in collections around the world.

Dr Khaled Azzam, Director of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, says: “We are honoured to have been chosen as London’s temporary home for one of these extraordinary caves. We hope Londoners and anyone visiting London will take this rare opportunity to see close-up, these exquisite examples of some of the world’s earliest Buddhist artwork – just as pilgrims, traders and worshippers would have made when they stopped at this crucial junction on the ancient Silk Road. We are immensely grateful to the Dunhuang Research Academy and to the Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation for paying us this honour.”

The actual cave is now so fragile it is closed to all visitors. Considered the most important of the ten late-Yuan dynasty caves, Mogao Cave 3 is the only one entirely devoted to the Avalokitesvara Sutra. The exhibition will also feature replicas of other cave murals, sculptures and manuscripts.

The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is also hosting nine practical art courses relating to the paintings in the Dunhuang caves. These include learning traditional mural techniques and making vibrant pigments by grinding mineral rocks. The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is also hosting nine practical art courses relating to the paintings in the Dunhuang caves. These include learning traditional mural techniques and making vibrant pigments by grinding mineral rocks.
Continue reading