Buddhist Prayer Campaign Begins in Chittagong Hill to Prevent Riots

Bandarban: Over 3000 Buddhists joined a prayer ceremony on Friday in Bandarban, a town in southern Chittagong Hill Tract in Bangladesh, aimed to prevent sectarian violence spreading into their area from Arakan, Burma, said community leader U Saw Ba Htwee.

The ceremony was held at Rama Pagoda, a few kilometers out of Bandarban town at 9am. Over 3000 Buddhists from several Buddhist communities in the area including Marama, Rakhine, Chakmar, Mro, Barawa and Mru participated the prayer ceremony to make devotions to help prevent riots.

“Everyone in this hill tract area is concerned about community safety after sectarian riots took place in Arakan state. Our Chittagong hill tract area is very close to Arakan state. We do not want the riot spreading to our area. Because of this, we made the prayer campaign,” Mr Saw Ba Htwee said.

Each Buddhist devotee brought a candle and a hand held fan to the prayer ceremony in accordance with the instruction of abbot U Saw Hla, who conducted the prayer ceremony, to worship Buddha images.

In the Chittagonng Hill Tract area of Bangladesh, there are three districts- Bandarban, Rangamati and khagrachhari- where Buddhist communities are the majority.

“We are a peace loving community in Bangladesh. There is not any hatred amongst different people in the Bandarban area. But we want to avoid from any untoward incidents like those that occurred in Arakan state in Burma,” he added.

The prayer campaign was undertaken with the arrangement of a prominent abbot U Saw Hla who has been carrying out many religious ceremonies in the areas to maintain peace and harmony between all religions in Bangladesh.

“ The monk conducted the prayer campaign for peace. At the ceremony people offered candles, flowers, water to Buddha and images of Rama Pagoda during the ceremony for peace,” another community leader U Mwee Tha Htwee said.

The ceremony ended after two hours.

The Bangladesh government has also beefed up security in the border areas close to Arakan state after sectarian violence broke out in Arakan in June. In Arakan state, 83 people died and thousands more became homeless.