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The Lumbini Udyana Mahachaitya Project

UTBF International - October 1, 2006

On July 7, 2006, Rinpoche led the ground breaking ceremony of the Lumbini Udyana Mahachaitya (LUM) project inside the United Nation's World Heritage Site, Lumbini, Nepal. Preliminary construction work commenced in early September.

Blessing Ceremony
Ceremony with representatives of
monasteries of various countries
LUM is part of the Lumbini Development Project under the auspices and protection of the United Nations. Lumbini is the sacred birthplace of Buddha Shakyamuni. Since the start of the Lumbini Development Project, representives of various countries, governments and Buddhist communities who were awarded land on this World Heritage Site, have been building monasteries. LUM will be a monastery representing friends and devotees of Buddhism whose communities or countries are not represented on the land by any particular monastery. It is included as part of the Mahamudra Hermitage project, and will serve the needs of resident sangha, pilgrims, regular prayers, short retreats and special courses and retreats for women and children, especially those who need special care.

Lumbini site

Lumbini Garden - the site of the Lumbini Development Project covers an erea of 1x3 sq. miles, with three zones each covering one square mile connected by the Central Link - a 1.5 km long corridor canal flanked by two brick pedestrian walkways. The area is currently under development. The masterplan also includes gardens, a library, a museum, monastic zones and areas for amenities. In the International Monastic zone, Theravadian monasteries are developed to the east of the Central Link, while Mahayana monasteries are being built to the west of the Central Link. The land for LUM under Rinpoche's leadership is square shaped, with 80 meters on all sides, next to the center of the Mahayana zone, neighboring the monasteries of France, Vietnam, Germany, India, and People's Republic of China.

A contract between the Lumbini Development Trust and the United Trungram Buddhist Foundation, Nepal was signed on May 7, 2006 to develop LUM. On July 7, representatives of the monasteries of various countries attended LUM's ground breaking ceremony. Rinpoche and participating monks and nuns blessed the ground through a series of chants starting with the practice of Vajrayogini. After breaking the ground and placing a Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha vase at the center of the site, Rinpoche made the keynote speech.

Chanting Ground Breaking Vase Planting James  Eiteljorg making a speech
Blessing the ground Breaking the ground Planting Ksitigarbha vase James Eiteljorg making speech

Preliminary construction work was started in early September, 2006. Please check back for more news about the project.

Historical Background

Lumbini is the place where the Prince Siddhartha (the Buddha) was born and took his first seven steps and uttered an epoch-making message to the world. In the 6th Century B.C.E., in a month of Vesaka (which usually falls in May), Maya Devi, the queen of the Sakya Kingdom gave birth to Siddhartha at Lumbini grove. In 249 B.C.E, the Emperor Asoka of the Mayura Dynasty made a pilgrimage to the place and erected a stele bearing an inscription stating that Shakyamuni Buddha was born there. The site was visited by famous Chinese pilgrims including Hiuen-Tsang (7th century C.E.). After the 14th Century, the place was slowly neglected for almost 600 years until an archaeological survey in 1896 done by General Khadga Shamsher Rana and Dr. Fuhrer. More discoveries were made in the 1930s.

In April, 1967, former United Nations Secretary General (the late U.Thant) visited Lumbini, and highlighted the importance of the sacred birth place of Lord Buddha for millions of the world population. The UN Secretary General wanted the government of Nepal to develop Lumbini as an international pilgrimage and tourist center, to which the then king of Nepal Mahendra gave full support. In 1970, Prof. Kenzo Tange of Japan was assigned to create the Lumbini Master Plan which was approved by the Nepalese government in 1978. The Lumbini Development Trust was formed in 1985 to be in charge of the overall development and management of the Lumbini project.

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