More than 5,000 Hindus of the low caste changed their religion in an unusual ceremony in northern India when they were initiated to Buddhism.
GAPAN & CU Hindus sitting & Lamas standing in crowd (2 shots)
CU Buddha's image
MV Candles being lit
GV & MV Flute players (2 shots)
SV Monk bowing to image
SV Lamas praying
CU Flute players
SCUs Hindus praying (3 shots)
SCU PAN Lames
MV Monk handing out leaflets to Hindus
CU PAN Women & baby in crowd
CU & SV TILT UP TO GV Hindus chanting & praying (2 shots)
Initials SGM/0110 SGM/0048
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Background: More than 5,000 Hindus of the low caste changed their religion in an unusual ceremony in northern India when they were initiated to Buddhism.
The colourful ceremony took place at Sarnath, near Banners, where the Lord Buddha is said to have preached for the first time.
The initiation began on Sunday (26 November) and was attended by Buddhists monks form Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma and Bangladesh.
The Hindus involved in the ceremony belonged to the caste originally known as the Untouchables, and now known locally as Harijans. Because of their caste, they had little standing in the Hindu society, and were not allowed to enter many temples in India.
The Harijans chanted Buddhist preachings as the High Priest of Thailand performed the initiation.
After the ceremony, the newly converted Buddhists denounced in public the Hindu faith, vowing not to obey any Hindu God or to take part in any Hindu religious festival.