In December 2013 State Government of Uttar Pradesh, under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, convened a spectacular Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony on the land granted to the Project in Kushinagar. The land is extraordinarily precious in that it is adjacent to the Maha Parinirvana shrine denoting the place where Buddha Shakyamuni passed into Maha Parinirvana. On three sides the land encloses, the Ramabhar Stupa – the cremation site of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Details, remarks, and more pictures of the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony may be found here or continue reading below.
An Update from Kushinagar: Maitreya Buddha: Bringing Loving Kindness to the World
By Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Maitreya Buddha embodies kindness. An important part of both Maitreya Projects is the practical application of kindness in terms of social work, health care, education, job creation and economic development. Those are really the objects of the projects. In Kushinagar, that vision has been developed and is maintained and supported through close cooperation with the state government of Uttar Pradesh,” Peter Kedge, the international coordinator for the Maitreya Buddha Kushinagar Project, told Mandala in February.
On December 13, 2013, the Maitreya Buddha Kushinagar Project took an enormous step forward: the state government of Uttar Pradesh handed over an initial tranche of 275 acres (111 hectares) of land for the statue, which will be at least 200 feet (61 meters) tall. The land is directly adjacent to the holy pilgrimage sites of the Parinirvana Temple and Rambar Stupa in Kushinagar, the location of Buddha Shakyamuni’s parinirvana and cremation. The land transfer was marked by a grand ceremony held on the land and attended by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Maitreya Project trustees, many government officials, including the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and an audience exceeding 100,000. “Since the foundation stone laying ceremony, we have been working to build a management team with its center of gravity now in India under the auspices of the Maitreya Buddha Project Trust in India,” Peter said. “We are delighted to welcome on board Nimai Vijay, one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s students in India, as the full-time project manager.” Nimai will lead the Indian team and work closely with the project trustees. Maitreya Buddha Kushinagar Project’s current focus includes moving the 24 foot (7.3 meter) tall statue of Maitreya Buddha from Maitreya Project land in Bodhgaya to Kushinagar, where it will remain until the large statue is built.
Another priority is the establishment of health care services. “The project is preparing to purchase its first mobile clinic to serve Kushinagar-area villages,” Peter explained. “The mobile health care service will be combined with a summer campaign for the distribution of mosquito nets in villages where malaria is a major problem. For the colder winter months, the health care service will be combined with the distribution of blankets to those in need.” For Saka Dawa, the project is planning the first religious ceremony on the site and hopes to have the 24-foot statue installed by then.