Gaya, Jan. 18 (ANI): An international festival that promotes religious tourism and commemorates the enlightenment of Lord Buddha began in Bihar on Sunday.
The annual ‘Bodh Mahotsava’ or the Lord Buddha’s festival at religious site of Bodh Gaya in Gaya district was inaugurated by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, along with other state officials.
Devotees and Buddhist monks lit candles, sang hymns and worshipped the Lord Buddha at the Mahabodhi Temple.
Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment at the Mahabodhi Temple.
Monks from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan and Cambodia have also been invited to participate in the spiritual event, which is jointly organised by the tourism department and Bihar government.
Historians say Lord Buddha had meditated without food for six years at Dungeshwari hill at Bodh Gaya prior to attaining enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
Around 11 kilometer northeast of the Mahabodhi Temple, the Dungeshwari caves are known as Prag Bodhi or pre-enlightenment hill in Buddhism.
Buddhist scriptures describe Bodh Gaya as the “Navel of the Earth”, where pilgrims and tourists from Sri Lanka, China, Japan and the entire of southeastern Asia throng to this holiest of Buddhist shrines every year.
Scores of Buddhist monks, lamas and devotees carried out an enlightenment march in Gaya before the Lord Buddha’s festival began.
During the three-day festival that will conclude on January 19, artists from India and other countries would enthrall the audience with their dance and music performances.
Bihar has been celebrating Bodh Mahotsava on a large scale since 1998.The festival also helps in providing a boost to the tourism in the state, as efforts are made to present the cultural festival at par with international events. (ANI)