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Buddhist community cuts festival expense to aid Rohingya refugees

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October 7, 2017

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By Fazlur Rahman Raju

They will donate the expenditure of the lantern festival to the Rohingya refugees

The Buddhist community in Bangladesh has declared that they will forgo parts of their festivities for Probarona Purnima, their second biggest religious festival, and donate the cost of a major event for the Rohingya refugees who have recently arrived in Bangladesh.

Community leaders announced this decision at a meeting with senior Awami League leaders at the party president’s Dhanmondi political office on Wednesday morning.

Bangladesh United Buddhists’ Forum Chief Convener Ashokh Barua said: “We will not celebrate the lantern festival this year during Probarona Purnima. The expenditure of the festival will be given to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to aid the refugees.”

Probarona Purnima festival, marking the end of Vassa, a three-month retreat, will be observed on October 5. Traditionally, the Buddhists celebrate the day by flying numerous paper lanterns or Fanush, among other rituals.

Earlier, the Buddhist community had announced that it will refrain from the lantern festival to protest the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

The Rohingya, who are mostly Muslims, have been facing persecution in Myanmar for decades. In late August, the Myanmar military began a violent crackdown on the ethnic group, leading almost half a million to cross the border into Bangladesh.

“The government will ensure all kinds of security for the Buddhist community,” said Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader, urging them not to consider themselves as a minority group in the country.

Awami League joint secretaries Mahbubul Alam Hanif, Dipu Moni, Abdur Rahman, General Secretary of the Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal Dilip Barua, and others were present at the meeting.