Buddha Purnima, McLeodGanj, Dharamsala, India


While in McLeod Ganj, I also saw the annual Buddha Purnima festival around the Tsuglagkhang complex. It marks the day of the Buddha's enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, Bihar.  Since the Buddha is also a member of the Hindu pantheon—a slick retrofitting job by the Brahmins made him the 9th avatar of Vishnu—thousands of pilgrims, ascetics, and other poor Hindus descend from surrounding areas to pay homage or to collect alms. A few even arrive after multiple days of travel. I saw many severely disabled people here, including lepers with festering sores (some had also been cured of this easily curable disease; though leprosy rates have declined in India because of govt. programs, talking to the patients reveals the social stigma that still surrounds leprosy and the sad persistence of misinformation about it). Buddhist monks start their celebrations at midnight with chants and prayers and donate generously with open arms. This vast, deeply affecting, and uniquely Indian drama that unfolds is over by the evening with the visitors returning home. [—23 May 05]

A day of giving

Throngs

Faceless?

Precariously perched


Sadhu


Couple


Father with daughters


Row of visitors


Picking lice?


Leprosy victim


Chanting for alms


All smiles


Two young women


Smoking weed


Monk


Two women


Working woman


Women


Tibetan-Indian


Leprosy victim


Hope and anticipation


Young woman


Family


Devotees of Shiva


Throngs


Young woman


Young woman


Sadhu


Young woman


Two women


Face of suffering?

A leprosy victim

Throngs


Boy smoking weed


Mother and child


Sadhu


Man on the Kora


Seeking alms


Sadhu


Pilgrim


Father and children


Mother and child


Sadhu


Squatting girl


Sadhu


Seeking alms


Two boys


Sadhu


Father with children


Two sadhus


Sadhu


Chillum time


Give me too


Elderly pair


Don't forget me!


Young women


Hey you, sir!

 



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