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World Buddhist forum to be held next year
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Buddhist monks and scholars from around the world will gather at a forum in China in March next year to discuss how Buddhism can contribute to the building of a harmonious world, forum organizers announced on Sunday.

The second World Buddhist Forum is to be held in Wuxi City in east China's Jiangsu Province on March 28, 2009. The meeting will then move to Taipei, Taiwan, and close there on April 1, Buddhist Master Xuecheng said at a press conference in Wuxi.

He said Buddhist monks and scholars from more than 20 countries, including the United States, Britain, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India, had expressed wishes to attend the forum.

Invitations have been sent to more than 60 countries and regions.

Master Xuecheng, also vice-president of the Buddhist Association of China, said the event was jointly organized by the association, Buddha's Light International Association, the Hong Kong Buddhist Association, and the China Religious Culture Communication Association.

The forum will focus on the spirit of harmony, regarded as the essence of the Chinese and Buddhist cultures, and the role that Buddhism can play in building a harmonious world, he said.

He also expressed the hope that the event would contribute to greater exchanges and understanding among Buddhists in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Besides seminars, a series of exhibitions on Buddhist relics, crafts and photos will be held during the forum.

Special bell-sounding and praying ceremonies were staged simultaneously in Wuxi, Hong Kong and Kaohsiung on Sunday.

The first World Buddhist Forum was held in Hangzhou city in east China in April 2006. Statistics published at that time showed around 100 million Chinese, or one in every 13 Chinese, are Buddhism followers.

The religion was introduced into ancient China from India over 2,000 years ago.

(Xinhua News Agency November 24, 2008)

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