Groundbreaking ceremony of Silaunja Great Love Village in Bodh Gaya, India. Occupying 1.25 acres, the village is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. | Photo provided by Tzu Chi Foundation

On February 25, 2024, Tzu Chi Foundation held a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site for Silaunja Great Love Village, Bodh Gaya, in Bihar state, northeastern India. The 36 homes will be built for villagers in the impoverished area of Silaunja. During the ceremony, Vice President Pi-yu Lin (林靜憪) of the Tzu Chi Foundation read Master Cheng Yen’s letter of blessings and gratitude, thanking Tzu Chi volunteers for their efforts in carrying out the missions of charity, medicine, and education in Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment. She emphasized the importance of these actions in fulfilling the Buddha's teachings and benefiting humanity. Master Cheng Yen said she hoped the 36 homes would provide shelter for the villagers and serve as model communities, leaving a lasting blessing on the land of India for future generations.

As part of the ceremony, 63 local women gave a sign language performance of the Tzu Chi song “Thousands Helping Hands,” moving many in the audience with their gentle gestures and expressions. | Photo provided by Tzu Chi Foundation

Repaying the Buddha’s Grace

Forty Dharma masters attended the ceremony to offer blessings for the groundbreaking. They included 15 Dharma masters from both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions; they recited prayers in Pali and praised the Buddha's teachings and guidance for humanity. Vice President Lin, representing Tzu Chi Foundation, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to repay the grace of the Buddha by helping the impoverished and sick in Bodh Gaya. She looked forward to enriching people's lives spiritually through an understanding of Buddha’s teachings.

The groundbreaking ceremony of Silaunja Great Love Village saw the participation of local people from Bodh Gaya, joining hands to witness the auspicious event together. | Photo provided by Tzu Chi Foundation

In February 2023, when the Tzu Chi team first visited Silaunja, they saw how villagers lived in houses made of mud walls and thatched roofs, with the eaves so low that one had to bow the head to enter. Starting from March 11, 2023, volunteer teams from Malaysia and Singapore began to take turns to carry out Tzu Chi’s missions in Bodh Gaya, working tirelessly to improve the living conditions of the sick and poor as part of the initiative to improve the Buddha’s homeland.