The 13th Annual Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony in Bodhgaya began on December 2nd this year. The first morning starts with a loud, decoration filled walk from the host temple, this year it was the Royal Thai Temple, to the Kalichakra.
The lead is a horse drawn carriage loaded with the Tipitaka chanting scripts.
Before the parade begins, blessings are given by the head abbot, followed by fireworks and dancing.
The funny thing is, the parade had already started. The parade set up was on a horseshoe driveway, so they just started from the other end. This meant I ran the course 3 times to get all the entrants and goings on.
The term maechi has a fascinating history. It is technically illegal to be ordained as a Buddhist nun in Thailand, so they use the honorific maechi.
All of this was followed by a long list of speakers at the welcoming ceremony before lunch at the Kalichakra.
Then we fed thousands.
After lunch was over these four to five thousand people all headed to the Mahabodhi Temple to sit under and around the Bodhi Tree for more speeches.
The Master of Ceremonies was Raji Ramanan. I have had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Raji over the last several weeks. She is a gracious, beautiful and a highly intelligent, accomplished woman. She is an author, translator for the Dali Llama and a scholar. She kept the show flowing, even when the power went out and the microphones died.
The festivities went well into the night with gift giving and more speeches and finished with chanting. An auspicious way to open the ceremony.
I have said before, I do not know what it is about Indian events that require 4 to 5 hours of speeches, but the parade was fun and the program has begun.