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Buddhist monks in eastern India pray for ailing Nelson Mandela

070313-buddSTORY: Large numbers of Buddhist monks from across the word congregated at Bodh Gaya in eastern India’s Bihar state on Tuesday (June 02).

They offered mass prayers for ailing South African anti-apartheid crusader and former President, Nelson Mandela

The 94-year old former South African president has been in a Pretoria hospital for more than three weeks receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection, his fourth hospitalisation in six months.

The South African government has said that Mandela is ‘critical but stable’.

In India, Mandela is highly revered for adopting methods of non-violence and peace to achieve his political objects against apartheid system, which were espoused by Mahatma Gandhi, leader of independence struggle.

Lauding Mandela, Buddhist monks said that he is a global icon for human rights and the fight against racial discrimination.

“I prayed for the long life of South African leader, Mr. Nelson Mandela who fought for such a long time to end apartheid and racial discrimination in Africa. This is not only an example in the African region or the African continent. It is an example for the world community that how apartheid, which is a disease really for human race can be peacefully settled,” he said.

Mandela is also the recipient of India’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna and other awards such as the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 for his endeavours.

While Mandela lies in hospital, many South Africans are looking ahead to his 95th birthday on July 18.

Another Buddhist monk and former priest at the Mahabodhi temple, Satyanand said that monks from across the world are praying for Mandela.

“A special prayer ceremony has been organised today and is witnessing the participation of Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. Everyone has prayed for Nelson Mandela’s health because he has always walked on the path of truth and non-violence, which is a key component of Lord Buddha’s teachings,” said Satyanand.

Mandela’s health also dominated a two-day visit to South Africa by US President Barack Obama over the weekend.

Obama met the Mandela family on Saturday, offering words of comfort and praising the retired statesman as one of history’s greatest figures.

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