Express News ServicePosted: Jan 25, 2010
Ahmedabad Close to 11,000 people, including those from the Koli and Kshatriya communities as well as Christian families, embraced Buddhism at a function in Saijpur Bogha here on Sunday. Buddhist monks from Bhante Pragnyasheel administered the pledges to the new converts. The Ahmedabad district collector, however, said no conversion could be effective unless an official permission was granted.
“Five Hindu Dalit families that had earlier converted to Christianity also converted to Buddhism at the function,” said Balkrishna Anand, convenor of the Bauddh Dhamma Deeksha Angikar Abhiyan (Gujarat).
“We were working on the event for the last few months, touring many districts and conducting meetings to mobilise people,” he said, adding that in all, 350 meetings were held to spread the message across the state.
Maintaining that nearly 11,000 people converted to Buddhism at the function, Anand said the neo-converts had come from places as far as Patan, Surendranagar, Rajkot, Vadodara, Junagadh and Mehsana.
Renowned Buddhist leader Kalpana Saroj was the chief guest at the function, which was presided over by five Buddhist monks from various parts of the country.
Asked whether an official permission was sought to carry out the conversions, the convenor said applications for conversion were submitted in the respective districts and they were under process.
Ahmedabad District Collector Hareet Mehta, however, said he did not have details of the applicants off hand.
On the occasion, the Vadodara-based Buddhist Mahasabha urged the state government to work towards inception of the Buddhist relic at M S University into a stupa.
“The state government, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation and M S University should join hands to execute the project with help from Acharya Satyanarayan Goenka of Mumbai, who had set up a grand pagoda,” a memorandum of the Mahasabha to the CM read.