This year Buddha Purn ima falls on 16 May, marking the birthday of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism which flourished in the eastern Ganges culture of Northern India around 500 BC.
Essentially an offshoot of Hinduism, it received royal patronage, especially during the reign of Ashoka but its influence declined in India after the Gupta period while making substantial inroads in South East Asia.
The basic tenets of Buddhism centre around the four noble truths, namely human suffering, the cause of suffering, cessation of suffering and the eight-fold path leading to the end of suffering or Nirvana.
The Buddhist population of the capital is miniscule as compared to other faiths like Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Yet the city is home to various Buddhist temples and centres where people can come and have a glimpse of Buddha’s teachings and practices.
Out of the hand ful Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Delhi, the Buddhist Monastery of Ladakh Buddha Vihar in Majnu Ka Tila is the most popular. Surrounded by the small Buddhist locality and a famed market, this sacred shrine is thronged by devotees and tourists alike of all faiths.
As the name suggests, it is a Tibetan style monastery with Lord Buddha as the main deity and incredible wall art. Bud dhist devotees and all those drawn to Buddhist tenets also visit the World Buddhist Cen tre in East of Kailash where the highly trained monks of both Japanese and Indian descent help people find a way out of their pain and sufferings through meditation which is an integral part of Buddhism.
Apart from this, the Buddha Vihar in Bhogal, Kalkaji, and Munirka, and the Buddhist temples in the Central Ridge Reserve Forest, Laxmi Nagar, and Mangolpuri are some of the prominent Buddhist sites of Delhi. A prominent Buddhist centre in Delhi is the ‘Tushi ta Mahayana Meditation Cen tre’ located in Padmini Enclave of Hauz Khas.
It offers perfect spiritual tranquility and knowl edge about the religion with a well-stocked library of over 1,000 books on Buddhist lit erature and conducts various sessions of meditation, yoga and spiritual healing.
The Tibet House which was founded in 1965 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to preserve and dis seminate the unique cultural heritage of Tibet and to pro vide a centre for Tibetan and Buddhist studies organises Buddhist conventions and periodic seminars through out the year.
That said, the Bud dha Vihar of the Mahabodhi Society of India situated near the Laxmi Narayan Temple on Mandir Marg remains the most central place of worship of the Buddhist community in the capital.