34th Kalachakra Continues to Receive Unprecedented Number of Devotees.

January 6, 2017

The streets are blocked with pilgrims from at least 90 countries converging at the holy city.

BODH GAYA: The 34th Kalachakra, currently underway at the holy town of Bodh Gaya, continues to receive unprecedented number of devotees, drawing thousands of fresh footfalls daily.

The 34th Kalachakra, organised by the Central Tibetan Administration, has attracted an estimated 2 lakh devotees from 90 countries till date and the numbers are still growing. It is likely to become one of the highest attended Kalachakra in recent history.

The main teaching ground, with a capacity of 80,000, is filled to the brim with devotees from all over the world. A sharp surge in devotees since the inauguration on 2 January, has further prompted the organizers to fill two more mega tents outside the teaching ground.

People, who were unable to get seats even in the extra tents, are seen sitting on the footpaths beside the main street listening to the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The 34th Kalachakra has received a huge number of devotees particularly from the Himalayan Buddhist regions including Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. More than 40,000 devotees have arrived from the Himalayan Buddhist regions alone, excluding Mongolia and the Russian Buddhist federal states. This has coincidently offset the Chinese government's recall of Tibetan pilgrims from Tibet who have come to attend the Kalachakra.

Besides the spiritual purification of the participants, the Kalachakra has also turned into a huge social and cultural event for all from the spiritual and serious dharma buffs to the social butterflies.

Even from a gastronomical point of view, the Kalachakra has turned into a destination for foodies, especially the vegetarians. More than 2 Lakh rotis (flat bread) and tea are served everyday at free of cost by the mega public kitchens.

The sheer scale of the Kalachakra can also be gauged from the hundreds of makeshift restaurants and teashops that have cropped up in the town within weeks of the Kalachakra.

More than a dozen mobile ATMs have also been installed at various locations within the town to ameliorate the cash shortage caused by the recent demonetization drive. These were facilitated by the Finance Ministry of India and Reserve Bank of India as requested by the Central Tibetan Administration.

With its powerful spiritual connection with the public, the Kalachakra is one of the most sacred spiritual activities for Tibetan Buddhists. The tradition of Kalachakra initiation was begun by His Holiness the 7th Dalai Lama in the 18thcentury.

His Holiness the great 14th Dalai Lama has bestowed over 34 Kalachakra initiations till date, the first one being at Norbulingka, Lhasa, in April 1954.

As His Holiness told the crowd on the first day of the Kalachakra, the purpose of receiving the Kalachakra initiation is to make a profound transformation within oneself.

"Having come here for the Kalachakra, your goal should be that you will become better in your spiritual practice. If you can do that, the purpose of coming here is served," His Holiness exclaimed.

Photographers recording the arrival of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on stage at the Kalachakra teaching ground at the start of teachings preliminary to the Kalachakra Empowerment in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 5, 2017. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

One of the two extra tents filled to capacity with devotees.

People sitting on the pavements after the main teaching ground started overflowing with devotees.

Dozens of mobile ATM booths were set up across the city vy the Central Tibetan Administration with the help of Ministry of finance and the reserve bank of India.

Monks rushing out with kettles of Teas for the devotees.