Devika Chhibber, News Nation | May 4, 2015
After commemorating B R Ambedkar’s 125th anniversary on a mega-scale, now the Narendra modi government has decided to celebrate Buddha Purnima as a significant event in its calendar.
On Monday, the BJP government accorded official status to Buddha Purnima and announced that the occasion will be celebrated in a big with Prime Minister himself offering prayers for the people affected by Nepal earthquake.
However, an insight into the topic suggests there is more to eyes than one could see.
In the first announcement by Central government, the statement read, “On this occasion, the prime minister will lead the nation in prayers and solidarity with the people and nation of Nepal — the land of birth of Buddha and all those affected in India and Tibetan Autonomous Region.”
But another statement in evening omitted the reference to Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR); even the list of dignitaries did not show the name of the foremost Buddhist spiritual leader from Tibet, Dalai Lama, who is among the patrons of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) under whose aegis the Buddha Poornima is being celebrated. Then why the move? To please China; notably Modi will also be heading to China on May 14 and with big plans on agenda the step does not come as a surprise.
Also, it is very clear now that Modi government is trying to take up initiatives to fulfil its dream of ruling Dalit-run states in the country. It is trying to expand its base among the community, a large section of whom got converted to Buddhism.
The country will be witnessing assembly elections in 4 states i.e. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Punjab soon.
All these 4 states have significant Dalit voters, who are likely to play a decisive role in choosing the government. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving no stones unturned to revamp the image of his party. The decision can also be seen as an outreach to the neo-Buddhists.
Thirdly, BJP is also trying to set a tone in the country and take credit for remembering the significant days.
According to the government statement, “It is unfortunate that this most auspicious and sacred day associated with Buddha, the greatest messenger of peace and gift to humanity, which is celebrated all over the world and also recognised as UN Day of Vesak didn’t receive the official sanction and support in India, the land of origin of Buddha Dharma. Only twice in independent history of India, the day was officially commemorated in 1956 and 2008.”
Significantly, both the times India officially hosted the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations in Bodhgaya and Kushinagar under the Congress leadership; BJP always stayed away from the practice and this will be the first time that an event will be organised under a BJP Prime Minister.
The event will be attended by host of dignitaries, members of parliaments, ambassadors, eminent scholars, Buddhist monks and nuns from all over the world.
The celebration programme was initiated by the Prime Minister and minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, who happens to be the only Buddhist minister in Modi government.