India 2011 Bodhgaya is where 2600 years ago Prince Siddhartha Gautama sat under the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. Bodhgaya is in Bihar which is the poorest state in India. The villagers who live in the countryside surrounding the town are very poor. They grow their own food and live in huts often made out of mud, straw and palm fronds. The city is full of different Buddhist temples and ministries all from different countries and lines of Buddhism. In the center is the main temple of Mahabodhi with the Bodhi tree just behind. Bodhgaya is the most sacred place in Buddhism and all Buddhist are encouraged to make a pilgrimage there once in their life.
Extract from volunteers experience
I have been staying in a monastery just outside time, it is run by Rinpoche Mingur whose book ‘The Joy of Living’ made me want to visit; it was pure chance I ended up here. Made a friend on the train and shared a rickshaw. The monastery is like a boarding school for young monks. The monks all range from 4 to 17 with the older ones looking after the younger ones. There is no female presence at all and they can be boisterous, their days involve a lot of learning, chanting and schooling. They only ever wear the red robes of a monk.
I have been joining them for meal times which are fun despite my lack of Hindi and their limited English. They are friendly; they tend to practice their chants, eat and flick each other with the ends of their robes. Kids are the same everywhere. I have only had a couple of days working for the health project. It is an incredible set up and really well organized.
There are Doctors, nurses, dentist and me, an Osteopath, all inside the temple right by the Bodhi tree. A sea of maroon surrounds us as the floor around us in every direction is taken up by praying and chanting monks sitting crossed legged.
The 16th Karmapa is leading the prayers himself. The Dali Lama is due to arrive here in two weeks and the whole area is destined to get very busy. I am going to have to cut my trip short as a dog has bitten me. It isn’t bad but it was unprovoked and as I only got around to having 2 of the 3 rabies injections before I left I am considered unprotected. I have been advised to get human immunoglobulin and this is only available in Delhi. I get a flight tomorrow. What a disappointment! So sad, but have to play on safe side, as rabies doesn’t look fun and is always 100% fatal if contracted.