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LIVINGSTON MANOR, NEW YORK, June 18, 2001: Major Buddhist centers have spread throughout the wooded hills and valleys of the Catskills. Academics and others say the Buddhist presence is steadily growing, both in the number of centers and in the increasing variety of their traditions. "The borscht belt has become the Buddhist belt," said Melvin McCleod, the editor of The Shambhala Sun, a leading Buddhist magazine. (The area was called the "Borscht belt" because of the large number of Jewish-oriented hotels built here in the 1950s.) The Dai Bosatsu opened here in 1976. "Some of America's most well-regarded and important Buddhist centers make their home in the Catskills," said Mr. McCleod. There are also several major yoga centers in this area.