Rajgir grandeur for Bodhgaya fest

The tourism department has decided to organise the Baudh Mahotsav in Bodhgaya on a grand scale from this year on the lines of Rajgir Mahotsav.

International artistes would be for the first time brought in at the annual festival. The performances are planned for the inaugural day, February 6, after chief minister Nitish Kumar inaugurates the three-day festival in Bodhgaya.

Tourism minister Sunil Kumar said: "The Rajgir Mahotsav is considered to be one of the most important events of Bihar and is celebrated in a big way. The state government plans to organise the Baudh Mahotsav on a similar scale this year. Chief minister Nitish Kumar will inaugurate the festival."

Artistes from Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan wouldperform on the first day. The minister, Kumar, said: "The second day will be dedicated to artistes from Bihar. Popular Indian artistes would perform on the third day. The department is finalising the schedule and the names of the artistes will be announced soon."

An official said: "The government is in talks to bring the ballet troupe of Mamata Shankar to the festival. Folk artistes from Manipur, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Gujarat will showcase their art forms." Sources said the theme of the Baudh Mahotsav will be "Emperor Asoka and Buddhism".

Cultural performances would not be the only pull at the event. Buddhist monks from different countries would come for the festival to hold discussions. The official added: "A peace march would be taken out on the last day of the festival. The participants would carry a 80ft tall statue of Lord Buddha. The department is making the preparations. There will also be a food plaza where delicacies from different states will be served."

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