Zemithang, the first stop of the 14th Dalai Lama during his flight from China-occupied Tibet in 1959, recently hosted a major Buddhist conference on April 17. The conference, which was organised by the Indian Himalayan Council of Nalanda Buddhist Tradition (IHCNBT), was attended by some 600 delegates from across India, including Tibetan spiritual leaders.
The village of Zemithang, which means "sand valley," is located in the Tawang district and is home to the Pangchenpa people, who are known as "people who gave up sin." The importance of the place was not lost on the attendees, who discussed the need to make Buddhism more vibrant and connected to Nalanda Buddhism.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu acknowledged the significance of Zemithang, as it was the last Indian border through which the Dalai Lama entered India in 1959. The conference was held at Gorsam Stupa, a place of great importance to Buddhists.
However, Beijing contests the Zemithang circle's border with Tibet along the Namka Chu and Sumdorong Chu valleys. Despite this, the conference was held successfully and demonstrated the growing importance of Buddhism in India and beyond.
In addition to discussing the need to make Buddhism more vibrant and connected to Nalanda Buddhism, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu also highlighted the importance of reasoning and analysis in Nalanda Buddhism. He noted that Buddhism is unique in that it allows its followers the liberty to apply logic and scientific principles to its teachings.
Khandu also emphasized the coexistence of diverse faiths in India's "land of the rising sun," including several religions that follow their own indigenous faith. He expressed pride in the fact that the people of Arunachal Pradesh are able to maintain their culture and traditions with religious fervor while still respecting other religions.
The delegates who attended the conference were from various locations, including the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and northern West Bengal, and Densa South India monasteries. The conference was a significant event for the Buddhist community, highlighting the continued importance of Buddhism in India and the world.
Edited and collated by Team TRC