Friday, February 18, 2011

Colchester and Ipswich Sanghas make Pilgrimage to India

Amalaketu, the new chairman of Triratna’s Colchester Buddhist Centre, writes with news of their recent Pilgrimage to the Buddhist Holy Places in India and Nepal - one of several this winter.  He says -

“28 Pilgrims from the Triratna Colchester and Ipswich Centres (plus a few interlopers from Brighton and Cambridge!) went out to India and Nepal this New Year, to visit the Buddhist Holy Sites.  These are the four  places where the Buddha was born (Lumbini, Nepal), Enlightened (Bodh Gaya), first taught the Dharma (Sarnath) and entered Paranirvana (Kusinagar).  We also fitted in trips to Nalanda, Vulture’s Peak, and the Bamboo Grove, the first land ever donated to the Buddhist Sangha.

"After arriving in Delhi (and making a quick visit to the Taj Mahal) we spent New Year’s Eve on the Ganges, fortunately not losing anyone to Hinduism!  Varanasi was in fact enough to put anyone off for life - it’s one of the craziest places on Earth; Sadhus attempting to put red spots on our foreheads, and charge 100 rupees for it!

"We spent time in Sarnath, doing an outdoor Puja where the Buddha first met his old followers, the Five Ascetics. While there we visited Dhammaloka, Triratna’s land in Sarnath, probably completely surprising  the two mitras living there by just turning up and doing Puja in their shrine room. They are probably still in shock...!

"We spent time on our land in Bodh Gaya, meeting Buddhavajra who introduced us to the site. Jane King of the Ipswich Sangha became a Mitra, and we felt very fortunate to be able to have such a meaningful ceremony there. We also visited Shashi’s Thangka School, Shashi being an Indian mitra very much associated with the Triratna community in Bodh Gaya. 

Over the course of the pilgrimage we visited all of the Holy Sites, but the highlights were going out to Kapilavastu (the Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal) and doing Puja at Rajgir on the Vulture’s Peak. We also headed out to Padmasambhava's meditation cave in Pharping, and did Puja to the amazement of the Tibetan Monks there.

"Fitting in a quick safari at Chitwan Safari Park, and finishing off in Kathmandu, the Pilgrimage Sangha returned to the UK in the middle of January, mostly sick (Pilgrims Plague?!) but after having a most amazing experience. It was such a harmonious trip, with a real sense of community, and we’re all still absorbing it..."

If you would like to know more please contact Amalaketu at the Colchester Buddhist Centre.

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