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Buddhism

Back to listFeb 25, 2007

25,000 Gather in India for General Meetings and Cultural Festivals

From January 26 through February 25, 2007, Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai (BSG) held combined general meetings and cultural festivals at 29 venues throughout India, beginning with the Bodhi Tree Garden located in a New Delhi suburb. "Dawn of India--In Praise of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth," a poem by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, was the theme of the festivals that symbolized a fresh departure toward the next 50 years. Traditional and contemporary songs and dances were featured at these local gatherings that provided opportunities for many family members and guests to attend.

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Ikeda Friendship Center (left) and Bodhi trees (right) on the grounds of the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden

Central Delhi Area met at the Bodhi Tree Garden on February 18. Among the 1,500 participants were Howard E. Hunter, Tufts professor emeritus of the Department of Religion and Culture at Tufts University, USA, and Sujit Kumar Basu, former vice chancellor of Visva-Bharati University. The program included a recitation of the "Dawn of India" poem, original dances and chorus numbers, and featured personal experiences of practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

BSG men's division district leader Amit Makhija became a BSG member six years ago following a disastrous business failure. Eventually, he landed an ideal job in a leading corporation with double the salary, but with a demanding boss his workload increased by twofold. With the encouragement of his seniors in BSG, he determined to change the situation through an inner transformation in himself. He worked even harder to encourage and support his fellow BSG members, often returning to the office after Buddhist activities. He continued to chant consistently to expand his capacity. Amit learned to stop complaining, grew more disciplined, and developed courage, compassion and patience, much needed traits in his profession. His relationship with his boss improved, and today, Amit has the deep trust of his colleagues. He appreciates learning about the principle of "human revolution" that enabled him to change his attitude in life and thereby transform his environment.

Manjeet Bhalla, a single parent with three children, suffered from a degenerative lung disease when she was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism by her eldest daughter Sheena some two years ago. Sheena, who was deeply affected by her parents' divorce and had become depressed and rebellious, had learned about chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo from a friend. A positive transformation in her daughter inspired Manjeet to join BSG. Manjeet's health improved dramatically. Together with the many anxieties she faced over her debilitating disease, Manjeet also challenged her relationship with her children. Today, she takes pride in their accomplishments, saying, "Despite the difficult situations faced by my children, they have shown tremendous courage and stood by me. This practice has transformed our lives.... As for me, from a cynical hopeless person who could barely smile I have become an optimistic and happy person. My journey so far has been very tough but my practice of Nichiren Buddhism has changed the impossible into the possible."

Commenting on the personal testimonials, Dr. Hunter said that these individuals who remain undefeated in the face of turbulent times and continue to live powerfully inspire others with great courage.

Many friends and family members participated in the Trans Yamuna Area meeting in New Delhi on February 4. The philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism and the BSG's NGO activities were introduced through a puppet show. Making the puppets from scratch, writing the story and script for the Kathputhli Ram puppet family and preparing the voice actors were challenges overcome through cooperation and unity.

Family members and guests were present at each of the meetings and cultural shows, which were infused with joy and a family-like atmosphere.

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BSG members of West Delhi Area
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Performers during cultural show, New Delhi Area One
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Chorus, West Delhi Area
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Dance, South Delhi Area
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Youth performers and participants, Northwest Delhi Area

[Adapted from a report from Bharat Soka Gakkai and an article in the March 23, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]