News at Tipitaka Network
Peace walk assumes modern tone
by May Titthara and Zoe Holman, The Phnom Penh Post, Thursday, April 2, 2009
Preah Sdach, Prey Veng (Cambodia) Started in 1992 to unify a factionalised country under the bond of Buddhism, the historic Dhammayietra march has evolved to teach modern social, environmental issues.
More than 100 monks, nuns and villagers from around the country walked across Prey Veng province in a 14-day campaign that finished Monday to promote peace and awareness of the environment, domestic violence and health care.
Participants in the 19th Dhammayietra Peace Walk marched 176 kilometres through 10 districts, receiving hospitality from monasteries and village offerings along the way in return for water blessings and education.
"We are here to promote a mindset of peace and non-violence", said Dhammayietra organiser and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Oddom Van Syvorn.
"Our aim is to educate people directly about social and environmental problems through teachings to villagers and primary school students."
The Dhammayietra volunteers' organisation was founded in 1992 when the renowned Cambodian Maha Ghosananda, or "Buddha of the Battlefields", walked defiantly through Khmer Rouge-controlled territory during the historic repatriation of refugees from Thai border camps. When Ghoshanda retired from the Dhammayietra in 2000, Oddom Van Syvorn, a laywoman, was selected by the founder to assume leadership of the pilgrimage.
Through the walk, Oddom says she will continue advancing the Buddhist precepts preached by Ghosananda. "We celebrate the knowledge of monks once a year with their daily teachings in schools along the Dhammayietra [route]," she said.
Organisers see the culturally specific format of Dhammayiatra as key to its effectiveness.
Before the rule of the Khmer Rouge, Volkmar Ensslin, managing director of education NGO KiKam (Kids In Kampuchea), said "the Buddhist community supported monks with food and in return, the monks gave religious teachings."
Dhammayietra propelled monks back into this role, she said, but they also discuss secular issues such as HIV/AIDS, the environment and domestic violence.
"Monks as culturally respected figures are perfect for this education," she added.
Nan Sarith, from Siem Reap province, was among the monks pouring themselves into the strenuous walk. "I've attended to help the Cambodian people develop", he said. "The teachings of the Goshananda can encourage the population to move on from a mentality of victimhood of the past."
This year's Dhammayietra included participants both young and old.
"I never walked more than 1 kilometre from home," said 73-year-old Nhem Pheang, who attended a fortnight ago and continued on the route until the final day. "But every day here I've walked about 10 to 15 kilometres, and I am still happy and strong."
Buddhist News Features:
Thursday, May 4, 2023 Vesak Extra!
Sunday, May 15, 2022 Vesak Extra!
Wednesday, May 26, 2021 Vesak Extra!
Jungto Society marks the birth of the Buddha with gatherings in Seoul
UN Day of Vesak celebrated in Hanoi
SL embassy in Itally celebrates Vesak
Buddha Purnima celebrated at Islamabad Museum
Hong Kong`s bun festival returns after pandemic hiatus
Thai Vesak celebrations to make return
Saigon parade celebrates Buddha`s birthday
Buddhist Association of China observes Buddha`s birth anniversary
Step inside Canberra`s first and only Thai Buddhist temple ahead of its long-awaited opening
New South Wales (Australia)
Ancient Gandhari Buddhist manuscripts handed back for repatriation to Pakistan
Buddhist monks on pilgrimage commend religious tolerance in Indonesia
Reclaiming the spirit of Vesak in a chaotic world
Seoul celebrates Buddha`s upcoming birthday during Lotus Lantern Festival
Buddha stood for peace, compassion and non-violence
Sri Lankans mourn Buddhist chief monk
Temple stays offer peace and opportunities for reflection
Boys get novice makeovers in Buddhist ceremony
Vesak Day event showcased Pakistan’s rich Gandhara heritage
Wesak Day filled with peace and joy
Sri Lankan monks take Vesak message to Beijing
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.
Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.