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First ‘Rain Retreat’ at Taxila Stupa After Ages

August 8, 2023

TAXILA: A group of Buddhist monks and their followers assembled at the Dharmarajika stupa in Taxila for the annual “rain retreat” (vassa) for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

The monastic retreat known as vassa is practised largely in Buddhist communities in Southeast Asia during the three-month monsoon season each year, according to the Britannica Encyclopaedia.

“Plates and polished black pottery that mimics Attic models were found,” added Dr. Michele Minardi of Italy.

The ritual was carried out at the stupa in Taxila by a group of 26 people led by Mr. Arayawangso, the senior monk of Thailand, and including six children and 20 disciples. Of all the stupas the Kushan dynasty built in the second century, the Dharmarajika stupa is the biggest and most revered. Buddha’s bone bits were also present.

The Dharma wheel at the stupa was turned by the Thai monks as well. The ceremony was held in remembrance of the first sermon and the founding of Buddhism. Every year, India, Nepal, and Bhutan mark this occasion, however this year was the first time ever that Buddhist monks performed the ceremony in Pakistan.

Similarly, a number of ceremonies were carried out, and at the conclusion of the ceremony, which was televised live in 32 nations in addition to the Pojhariphunchai monastery in Thailand, a sermon was given.

Later, a celebration in the monks’ honour was organised at the Taxila Museum. Mr. Arayawangso, speaking on the occasion, noted that the ceremony was held to mark the continuation of the “Dharma wheel” in this planet for the good and enjoyment of all beings.

The delegation would later be joined by roughly 150 monks and disciples to participate in different monastic rituals at significant Buddhist sites in Pakistan, including in Taxila and Takht Bhai.

He claimed that the event was broadcast live to encourage Buddhists to Pakistan so they could learn more about its potential. The eminent monk claimed that during his journey to Pakistan in 2019, he unveiled the “bell of peace” in Taxila and Peshawar and published a brief book in both English and Thai to inform his followers of the significance of Gandhara in the Buddhist tradition.

He explained that he was in Pakistan at the Punjab Tourism Department’s invitation and noted that the occasion of his trip was the 70th anniversary of Thai-Pakistani diplomatic relations.

According to Dr. Kyo Soon Park, secretary-general of the Gandhara Art and Culture Association, Most Venerable Arayawangso was the first “Dhamma ambassador” in this effort. He hoped that the trip will help the international community have a better knowledge of the Buddhist sites in Pakistan, particularly the stupas and monasteries.

According to Thai Ambassador Chakkrid Krachaiwong, Taxila’s history dates back nearly 2,000 years and is covered in their curricula. “We take great pride in being a part of the team that is preserving this heritage,”

Read More: The Buddha’s Life: Siddhartha Gautama

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