Lumbini belongs to all Buddhists
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Attention of Their Excellencies
Ram Baran Yadav, President of the Republic of Nepal
Dr Baburam Bhattarai, Prime Minister
Mr Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda),
Chaiman of the High Level National Steering Committee (HLNSC)
for the Development of Lumbini
We, as friends of Lumbini, are happy with the prospect of a re-targeting and accelarating of the development of Lumbini that could result from the recent establishment of the High Level National Steering Committee (HLNSC) for the development of Greater Lumbini.
We congratulate Mr Puspa Kamal Dahal for that initiative, and hope that the Visit Lumbini 2012 Year celebration, as well as the coming visit to Nepal of the UN General Secretary, His Excellency Mr Ban Ki Moon, will be instrumental in opening the way to a sustainable developement of the Lumbini zone.
But we are also worried about the prospect of seing Lumbini becoming little more than a commercial venture and turning soon into a new "Thamel, or Disney Land, in Tarai". According to the Scriptures, Lumbini was a garden. This image of Lumbini should be preserved.
Peace – of which the Buddha was declared the Prince - is not made of stones. It is also the quality of the relations between local communities, monastics and lay as well.
To contribute to the growth of the local population economic capacity and keep relations between local communities as harmonious as possible, hospitality services training (hotel and restaurant management), resulting in an increased number of employment opportunities, should rank second among priorities.
In order to prevent unhappy developments and better reach the goal mentioned above, we take the liberty to suggest that Buddhists representatives of all nationalities and traditions be involved in the decision making process regarding Lumbini.
After a research paper published by the Journal of Heritage Tourism (Vol 4, N° 2, May 2009, pp 157- 172) 3/4th of visitors to Lumbini come from six countries :
Sri Lanka : 32 %
Thailand : 17 %
South Korea : 9 %
Japan 9 %
We wish that representatives of these countries, Buddhist or having inherited an ancient Buddhist culture, be better represented in the organs Nepal has created to conserve and manage the Holy Sites of Lumbini, Kapilavastu and Devdaha, and be involved in the Nepalese decision making process regarding these sites.
To these countries could be added those where Buddhism has spread over the second part of the 20th century, who recognize Buddhism and/or fund Buddhist institutions activities, such as, among others, religious instruction in schools or counseling to prisons inmates.
Concretely we suggest that the ambassadors in Kathmandu of ancient Buddhist countries and of those where it has spread over the last few decades be accepted as representatives of their respective countries and sanghas at the new High Level National Steering Committee (HLNSC). The ambassadors would be assisted in their task by a representative, monk or clergy, of one of the main Buddhist sects or lineages active in their respective countries, or of their national Buddhist Federation such as exist in several European countries, according to the choice of each of these countries.
It would of course also be highly desirable that the LDT (Lumbini Development Trust) and representative of Lumbini Monastic Institutions be represented in the HLNSC. Such a widening of the HLNSC by giving a voice to representatives of the Lumbini local people and stakeholders as well as of those of a religion becoming more and more universal, would provide a mean for all Buddhists in the world to identify with Lumbini. It would also put Nepal at the center of emerging global Buddhism.
With Highest Regards,
International Coordination of the Friends of Lumbini (ICFL) c/o Jacques Van Nyen Rue de la Samaritaine, 38 1000 Brussels Belgium
(mainly in French; about threats to the environment and architectural heritage in the Lumbini Zone)