Buddhists congregate virtually as COVID-19 dampens festive spirit of Buddha Poornima


Buddhists from across the world prayed for the victims of coronavirus and honoured the medical professionals as they joined the virtual Buddha Poornima celebrations and Global Prayer Week on Thursday.
The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) in association with the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee held a virtual online celebration of the festival that observes the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Gautam Buddha.

This comes at a time when China is positioning itself as the champion of Buddhism when in reality it is anything but that given its track record in Tibet and the widespread marginalisation of the Buddhist community.
An otherwise grand event, the pomp was missing this year and the celebrations were limited to prayers and recitation of Buddha’s teachings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Dhammapiya, Secretary-General, IBC, said: “Unlike previous years, we are maintaining social distance. There may be physical distance but we are connected spiritually, mentally, emotionally and with all positive energy.”
Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the supreme head of the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism, prayed for the well being of those who were suffering directly or indirectly. 

He said: “I request Buddha, the Arahadas, the Bodhisattvas, to bless those who died during the last three months of COVID-19 pandemic, also those who have been hospitalised, and suffering for those in the families.”
“Everybody has fears and scares but scares cannot solve the problems. So, it is important that we keep a distance and avoid people. Even at our homes, we should maintain a distance of one to two metres,” he added. 

Due to COVID-19, the traditional celebrations of Vesak — Buddha Poornima — have been affected everywhere. Yet, the believers say the need for prayers and refuge in the blessing of the triple gem is greater than ever before while humanity is going through probably the worst crisis in recent times.
Ani Choying Drolma, a Nepalese Buddhist nun and musician, stated in her speech that “it’s really sad so many people around the world losing their precious lives. So, many people were infected are afraid of losing lives.”
She continued: “And those who are not infected are afraid of being infected. So much anxiety, so much pain, grief are in the air on these days. I truly pray with the blessing of all the enlightened beings, Buddha’s Bodhisattvas, all the compassionate human beings, may we be able to pacify of the all pains, grief and anxiety from this COVID-19 very soon.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also joined the celebrations, urged the people to follow the teachings of Lord Buddha and unite in the fight against the virus.

COVID-19, a disease which allegedly originated in a lab in China’s Wuhan city has affected over 3.8 million people across the world, with over 2,65,000 fatalities till today. 

With an anti-disease vaccine still not in sight, hundreds of thousands of others are projected to die in the coming months. The countries have been working at war-footing but have achieved little success in containing the spread of the pandemic.


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