Shell-shocked Buddhists scrap Bangladesh festivities

(FILES) In this photograph taken on October 1, 2012, a Buddhist monk looks through burnt religious books at a torched temple in Ramu, some 350 kilometres (216 miles) from Dhaka. AFP PHOTO/STR/FILES

DHAKA: Buddhists in southeastern Bangladesh cancelled celebrations for their most colourful annual festival in protest at mob attacks against their community last month, religious leaders said on Tuesday.

Buddhist leaders said a boating jamboree known as the Jahajbhasa Utsab and a paper lantern extravaganza had been scrapped Monday in the Cox's Bazaar district where at least 19 temples were torched or ransacked by Muslims in late September.

The events usually form the centrepiece of celebrations for Prabarana Purnima, a festival which marks the conclusion of a three-month period of seclusion for monks inside their monasteries in Bangladesh.

"This is the first time for a hundred years that we have not taken part in the ceremonies," Rajat Barua Riko, the leader of Young Buddhists Council in Cox's Bazaar told AFP.

"We did not celebrate these two key features of Prabarana Purnima, which are also religious rites, to protest the attacks."

Progyananda Vhikkhu, a Buddhist spiritual leader, said the Jahajbhasa Utsab had been held in Cox's Bazaar for over a century. Devotees usually float ornate boats on the Bakkhali River to commemorate Lord Buddha's voyages down the Ganges.

"The Buddist festivals are joined by the people from other religions including Muslims. We had been proud of our communal harmony," Progyananda said.

"We are still shell-shocked from the attacks, we do not have peace in mind, so we could not think of celebrating this year," he added.

Buddhists, who make up less than one percent of Bangladesh's 153 million mostly Muslim population, are based mainly in southeastern districts, close to the border with Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The violence originated at Ramu town in Cox's Bazaar and spread to five towns and a dozen villages as rumours circulated that a young Buddhist man had posted photographs on Facebook insulting Islam.

Buddhist leaders said the two days of violence was on a scale unseen since Bangladesh broke free from Pakistan and declared independence in 1971.

Police said thousands of Muslims had taken part in the riots and nearly 300 people have been arrested.





Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (

comments powered by Disqus



Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here