Conference and art festival showcase Pakistan's rich Buddhist heritage

By Our Correspondent
March 05, 2024
Participants pose during the 2nd International Buddhist Conference and Art Festival organised by the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) on March 3, 2024. — Facebook/Quaid-i-Azam University,Islamabad

Islamabad: The 2nd International Buddhist Conference and Art Festival organised by the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in collaboration with Humanistic Buddhism Resource Centre, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Archaeology & Museums and Silk Road Centre was inaugurated.


This year's conference was designed to Showcase Pakistan's Rich Buddhist Heritage and to engage a wide range of stakeholders including scholars, faith leaders, tour operators, youth and communities in knowledge development, conservation discourse, education, training, for preserving and promoting the Buddhist heritage of Pakistan.

While addressing the inaugural session, Syed Jamal Shah, Federal Minister for National Heritage and Culture, said that we are the proud custodians of the heritage of Gandhara and the Indus Valley. This land presents a beautiful diversity of cultures, religions, and teachings. He said, "As an artist, I believe that art and culture can engage individuals in their surroundings critically and creatively, and Buddhist art is reflective of wisdom, bravery, generosity, and beauty. He lauded the efforts of the conference organizers and offered his full support for future projects like this.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Idris, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University welcomed the participants of the two-day international conference. He said that we Pakistanis as Muslims respect all religions and their cultural heritage. He said that such conferences are important to organise in which local and foreign students, scholars and researchers exchange knowledge and to share research.

Prof. Dr. Ghani-ur-Rahman, Director, Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations said that Pakistan is the holy land for millions of Buddhist devotees and other faiths around the world. "The 2nd International Buddhist Conference and Art Festival promises to be a pivotal moment for those interested in delving into the depths of Pakistan's Buddhist legacy, offering a platform for intellectual discourse and artistic appreciation" he added.

A significant number of important Gandharan scholars and experts across the globe from Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Pakistan attended the conference. During the conference, various topics related to the history and conservation of Buddhism in Gandhara were discussed. These included identifying gaps and consolidating knowledge resources to provide a full perspective on Gandharan Buddhism, challenges in conserving Buddhist heritage in the region, and the importance of community engagement in protecting and promoting Gandhara heritage sites. Additionally, there were discussions on interfaith dialogue regarding the conservation of religious sites in Pakistan, the art and authenticity of Gandharan Buddhism, and the influence of Gandhara on other regions such as Sri Lanka and China. The conference also highlighted the latest research achievements in this field and explored topics such as Tang pilgrims' itineraries, the continuity of Buddhist traditions in Hindu temples, and the archaeological study of Buddhist period sites in Sindh.

Renowned scholars and experts including Prof. Dr. Danny Wong, Dean of Faculty Art & Social Science, University of Malaya, Malaysia, Prof. Li Xi Guang from Tsinghua University, China, Prof. Dr. M. Nasim Khan from Shingai International University, Prof. Dr. Anura Manatunga from University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, Prof. Dr. Stefan Baum also addressed the conference.