108 South Koreans on pilgrimage of Buddhist sites in India, Nepal
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New Delhi: In a first, 108 South Korean pilgrims will trace the footsteps of Gautam Buddha from Sarnath to Shravasti celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and South Korea.

The pilgrims will traverse 1,167 km over a period of 43 days, visiting Buddhist holy sites in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini in Nepal, participating in religious assemblies, practising walking meditation and praying for world peace.

The pilgrims, belonging to the Jogye order of Korean Buddhism, will embark on their pilgrimage from the Jogyesa Temple in Incheon in South Korea on February 9.

The foot march will begin from Dhamekh Stupa in Sarnath on February 11 and conclude at the Jetavana Monastery in Shravasti on March 20. The pilgrimage will conclude at the Jogyesa Temple in Incheon on March 23.

“The circuit seeks to help tourists experience first-hand the teachings of Lord Buddha and trace the footsteps of Buddha during his lifetime,” Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, told reporters here.

Chandra said the walking pilgrimage was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to popularise India’s Buddhist tourism circuit across the world.

He said the Centre and the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will extend all assistance to the pilgrims throughout the pilgrimage.

The walking pilgrimage has been organised by the Sangwol Society of India, which represents the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the most representative order of the religion in South Korea.

“This mega Buddhist pilgrimage is a befitting tribute to our shared Buddhist heritage. This will go a long way in further deepening the people-to-people contact,” Chang Jae-bok, South Korea’s ambassador to India, said.

He said during the pilgrimage, the pilgrims will pay homage at eight major Buddhist holy sites, experience Indian Buddhism and culture, and have meetings with religious leaders.

They will also hold a prayer assembly for world peace and a blessing ceremony for the dignity of life, the South Korean envoy said.

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