Eastern Eye (UK)
Korean monks on Buddhist pilgrimage in India
PILGRIMS from South Korea are tracing the footsteps of Gautam Buddha in India, from Sarnath to Shravasti in north India, to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries.
In a first, 108 South Korean pilgrims are scheduled to travel 1,167 km over 43 days, visiting Buddhist holy sites in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as well as Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini in Nepal. They will take part in religious assemblies, practise walking meditation and offer prayers for world peace.
The pilgrims, belonging to the Jogye order of Korean Buddhism, embarked on their pilgrimage from the Jogyesa Temple in Incheon in South Korea last Thursday (9).
The foot march started from Dhamekh Stupa in Sarnath last Saturday (11) and the last stop in India will be at the Jetavana Monastery in Shravasti on March 20. The pilgrimage will conclude at the Jogyesa Temple on March 23.
“The circuit seeks to help tourists experience first hand the teachings of Lord Buddha and trace the footsteps of Buddha during his lifetime,” said Apurva Chandra, secretary at India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in New Delhi.
Chandra said the walking pilgrimage was part of prime minister Narendra Modi’s vision to popularise India’s Buddhist tourism circuit across the world.
The pilgrimage has been organised by the Sangwol Society of India, which represents the Jogye order of Korean Buddhism, the most representative order of the religion in South Korea.
“This mega Buddhist pilgrimage is a befitting tribute to our shared Buddhist heritage. This will go a long way in further deepening the people-to-people contact,” said Chang Jae-bok, South Korea’s ambassador to India.
The pilgrims will pay homage at eight major Buddhist holy sites, experience Indian Buddhism and culture, and will meet religious leaders. They will also organise a prayer assembly for world peace and a blessing ceremony for the dignity of life, the South Korean envoy said.