A Buddhist monk adjusts his robes as he participates in Nyigma Monlam prayers in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Jan. 10. (Niranjan Shrestha/Associated Press)

Nepal is the birthplace of Buddhism, not India. I was surprised to read in the Jan. 14 news article “Hundreds of Tibetans defy China to gather in India” that some consider Bodh Gaya, India, the birthplace of Buddhism. It is Lumbini, Nepal.

According to UNESCO and the inscription on the pillar erected by Emperor Asoka in 249 B.C., the Lord Buddha was born in 623 B.C. in the sacred area of Lumbini in Nepal. Nepal was already a center of Buddhism during the Licchavi period, which lasted until 880 A.D.

Also, the original Buddhist practices were mostly in Nepal and northern parts of current-day India, the Bihar state. There is an unnecessary highlight of Tibetan Buddhism these days, and it has gained more popularity perhaps because of political reasons. Still, compared with Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism in Nepal and Bihar, the Tibetan tradition is a fairly new phenomenon. Evidence indicates Tibetan Buddhism became prominent around 1279, during the Yuan dynasty. It developed through interaction with the Bon religion of Tibet.

Lok Pokhrel, Cape Girardeau, Mo.