The Bodh Gaya dialogues are being initiated to facilitate civil society action to generate processes for conserving, disseminating and sustaining the rich and multiple cultural heritage of Bodh Gaya and Gaya region in South Bihar. By focusing on interconnections of diverse cultures of Buddhism, Hinduism and popular culture of Musahar community, the proposed dialogues aim to foster processes for sustainable heritage development with participation of diverse stakeholders.
Invoking the age old Buddhist tradition of dialogues as a way of comprehending and experiencing reality the Bodh Gaya dialogues represent a quest for perspectives and processes of sustainable development that are inclusive and ecologically sustainable. It is a humble attempt to engage with the paradox of rich cultural heritage and the challenges of modern development in the region. The defining ideal of this pursuit for union of external and internal well- being draws on the deep wisdom of Buddhist philosophy relating to real human finitude and release from its endemic suffering. To further this pursuit for cessation of suffering it is a call for compassionate engagement to overcome entrenched inequalities plaguing communities living in the 'navel of the earth'.
The Bodh Gaya dialogues seek to generate processes that engage with multiple heritage of the Bodh Gaya region in general and the Buddhist heritage in particular. This is with an aim to create educational and learning curriculum for appreciating the rich Buddhist cultural heritage as well as the vibrant intangible heritage and contemporary cultural practices of local communities. One of the key defining features of such pedagogic initiatives would be to weave together this complex of multiple heritage as representations from past with contemporary challenges of sustainable development of local communities.
It is in this context that the initiative would foster engagement with a range of stakeholders to promote fairer forms of tourism. Ensuring ecological sustainability, facilitating local community based livelihoods linked to responsible tourism and civil society participation in urban heritage planning are key cornerstones of sustainable heritage development.