The Buddha Ambedkar Missionary Social Education Foundation, an offshoot of the Backward and Minorities Communities Employee Federation (BAMCEF) which was founded by the late Kanshi Ram, has embarked on a Dhamma Yatra in Uttar Pradesh with the obvious intention of countering the Dhamma Chetna Yatra taken out by the BJP earlier this year. The six-day yatra that began on Friday will cover a distance of 500 km daily.

It will travel through the Buddhist circuit in eastern UP before culminating at Lumbini in Nepal, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, on 12 October. The BJP Dhamma Chetna Yatra which was flagged off in Sarnath in April, will culminate on October 14, the day Dalit icon Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar embraced Buddhism.

According to BSP sources, around 300 Buddhist monks and followers, mainly Dalits, have been invited by the foundation to participate in the yatra. S.P. Kureel, Foundation president, insisted that the yatra did not have a political purpose and added that the aim was to spread the message of caste and religious solidarity.

He said that from Lucknow, the yatra will travel to Varanasi, Kushinagar and Shravasti. In all these cities, the followers will stay at monasteries and Buddhist associated institutions.

While monks will wear their traditional brown and yellow robes, the followers have been asked to wear only white clothes. “The basic idea is to propagate the Buddhist ideology that is gaining significant relevance in the times of communal and caste conflicts,” Kureel said.

He added that during the yatra, the only subject under discussion would be Buddhism.

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