The Great Shravasti Buddhist Cultural Assembly 2015 Opening Ceremony
At 10:00am His Holiness arrived at the gate to receive a warm welcome from Mr. K.T Gyaltsen, honorary secretary of the organising committee of the Great Shravasti Buddhist Cultural Assembly 2015.His Holiness offered a khatak and made a lamp offering at the thangka of Lord Buddha. Sri. Vikram Singh (IAS) MD, Mr. Haji Mohammed Ranzam (MLA), Sri. Gangnath Tripathi (SP), together with representatives from Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Ladakh were also present. His Holiness and guests again performed the light offering ceremony, followed the Mangalacharan-sutra chanted by monks and nuns from the Drikung Kagyu Institute.
At 10:30, Ven. Khenpo Rangdol gave a speech welcoming all the representatives and participants at the event. At 11:00am, the secretary, Mr. K.T. Gyaltsen, gave a speech focusing on the importance of Buddhist culture and its heritage in India, and around the world. Prof. Wangcuk Dorji Negi gave a speech explaining the meaning of Shravasti and how it came into existence. It has two meanings: 1) shravan means 'to listen' to the Word of the Buddha, vasti means 'place'. 2) in Pali, the name is sabba-asti, sabba means 'all' and asti means 'to exist', thus 'everything is there', or 'every blessed thing is there'.
At 11:40am, Sri. Vikram Singh said he would support the future development of Shravasti as a pilgrimage site where many people will come to visit. This will support the local community, improve the economy. The local government shall support His Holiness to promote the festival in the future, and improve Shravasti as a world Buddhist site.
Thereafter Mr. Phuntsok Ladakhi sanga song on the Glorious Dharmadhatu, as an offering to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang. This was followed by speeches by Jang Tulku Rinpoche from Bhutan and others.
At 12:40am, His Holiness presented his vision of the event, as an important non-sectarian Buddhist Prayer Festival, to be held annually from now on. He spoke of the various kinds of support that will be needed for its organization, and expressed auspicious greetings to all those taking part. This was followed by a thank you speech from Ven. Khenchen Nima Gyaltsen.
After lunch His Holiness and all participants celebrated the birthday of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang which falls on this very day, coinciding with the 'Day of the Descent of Lord Buddha' festival (Lhabab Duchen) and His Holiness expressed wishes for long life, peace and happiness for all.
At 3:00pm, together with the huge gathering of participants, His Holiness visited Jetavana, gave the transmission of The Sutra of Auspicious Blessing and made light offerings and prayers for world peace.
After dinner, the first evening of a series of cultural shows performed by different Himalayan peoples was presented by dancers and artists from Limi, Lapchi and Lumbini, Nepal. The entertainment was enjoyed by all.
Each evening from 3-7 November 2015, during the Great Shravasti Buddhist Cultural Assembly, different Himalayan peoples from Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Ladakh gave cultural shows, with song and dance performances and sacred cham dance, in traditional costume.
In inviting dancers and musiciens from several different communities to display their art to all those present, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is hoping very much that in this way the young people will learn to appreciate and cherish their own rich and ancient cultural heritage in all its diversity.
On the first night, there were performances by artists from three different ethnic groups in Nepal. The Limi people presented an ancient dance that is said to go back over one thousand years. One of the costumes was over one hundred old. Then came the drum dance from Labchi, followed by a traditional Nepalese style dance from Lumbini.
On the second night, artists from Sikkim presented Lepcha, Tamang, Gurung and Sharpa dances and songs. Young men and women from the Gurung dance troupe presented Sonko Tarbai, the 'Golden Crown', when they gather together in the evenings to relax and enjoy after work is over.
The third evening began when the famous Bhutanese Atsara clown greeted His Holiness with a white khatak, while young girls sang an auspicious welcoming song, inviting him up onto the stage. Then there were several lively Cham dances, and a rare horse dance from Sumtrang in Ura, Bhutan.
On the fourth night, there was a special presentation on future plans for development of education, and Go Green Go Organic in the Shravasti region, by Hon. Rigzin Samphel, special secretary to the chief minister of the UP government. Then the Ladakhi group presented King Gesar and his warriors with their long bows, and an unusual Jug Dance, and so on.
On the fifth night, Saturday 7 November, an evening of Open Entertainment when all participants may present their talents, like a variety show.
On the last day of the Shravasti Assembly, during the closing ceremony, in themorning, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang gave the final teaching on the Tashipaido. Then he spoke about the creation of the Go Green Go Organic project in Ladakh, over the last two years.
Two professionals of Permaculture and Green Architecture, Tammy Turner and Johnny Chang from Taiwan gave detailed presentations of their work.
After that Chief Executive Secretary K.T. Gyaltsen presented an important petition to the Shravasti Assembly, addressed to Ban ki-Moon, General Secretary of the United Nations, with the title: 'Respond Urgently to Climate Change by setting a renewable energy target of 100% by 2050.' The petition was read in Tibetan, English and Chinese, and over 1500 participants raised the hands in approval.
PETITION: Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
Respond Urgently to Climate Change by Setting Renewable Energy Target of 100% by 2050
Climate change is one of the greatest moral chanllenges of our time. It threatens the health of our planet and people; especially the poorest and most vulnerable. It threatens our children’s future and everything we hold dear. It is time for all of us to wake up and take action together- in our local communities, nationlly, and globally, as well as in our daily lives.
As citizans motivated by faith and other moral tranditions, we recognize that there is a grave obligation to act on climate change.
We call on you as leaders to respond urgently to the threats of climate change and set a renewable energy target of 100% by 2050. We need bold action like this to keep global temperature rise below the unacceptable dangerous tipping point of two degrees, to phase out carbon pollution to zero, and to invest resources in sustainable develoment path ways to build a more flourishing, inclusive and balanced word.
As leaders of the [ World’s religions ] we pledge to do our own part by embracing the moral responsibility to care for our world and for each other by seeking to live better and more sustainable lives in greater joy and harmony.
… Let us act now, boldy and together to build a better life for all.