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Bihar: Buddhists to agitate for control of Mahabodhi temple
Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna | November 21, 2006 21:20 IST
Bodh Gaya Mahabodhi Vihar All India Action Committee will launch a nationwide fresh agitation for control of the management of the 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi temple in Bihar's Bodh Gaya town.
Currently, the temple's management is controlled by non-Buddhists.
Bhante Anand, president of the Bodh Gaya Mahabodhi Vihar All India Action Committee, said Buddhists will no more wait, but agitate for control of the temple.
Anand told rediff.com in Patna on Wednesday that Buddhists will begin a fresh agitation next month on the occasson of the 2,550th birth anniversary of Lord Buddha in Bodh Gaya.
"After much deliberations, we have decided to agitate for Buddhist control of the temple management," Anand said.
"We had knocked the doors of the President, prime minister, governor and chief minister with our genuine demand for Buddhist control of temple, but there has been no results till date," Anand said, who is also the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Bhikkhu Mahasangh.
He urged the central government to hand over to the Buddhists the management of one of the holiest shrines of Buddhism by amending the Mahabodhi Temple Management Act of 1949.
Anand said millions of Buddhists across the world are upset as non-Buddhists have the control over the holiest shrine of Buddhists. "We have decided to take the issue differently by lobbying, mobilising and protesting for Buddhist control over the management," he said.
"By early next year we will make an appeal to all the world's religious and political leaders to demand immediate dissolution of the temple management committee to hand over control to the Buddhists," Anand said.
"If the management of temples, churches, mosques and gurudwaras are not the under the control of other sects, then why not so in the case of the Mahabodhi temple," Anand said. He said Buddhists had been given little role in managing the affairs of the temple for over five decades.
Anand said they were tired of submitting memoranda to the state and central governments and that no action had been initiated till date.
The temple was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in June 2002. It attracts hundreds of tourists every day.
Thousands of tourists from abroad visit the temple annually.