India’s Buddhist pilgrim site inaugurated with Sri Lankan delegation | Sunday Observer

India’s Buddhist pilgrim site inaugurated with Sri Lankan delegation

24 October, 2021

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the international airport in Buddhist pilgrim site Kushinagar as the first flight from Colombo carrying a Sri Lankan delegation comprising 100 Bhikkus, and holy Buddha relics touched down at the tarmac on Wednesday.

The event marked the importance India has placed on bi-lateral relations between the two countries.

PM Modi in a twitter message following the event said, “India-Sri Lanka ties are getting stronger across different sectors. This augurs well for the people of our nations.”

“Together with PM Modi and the Government of India, Sri Lanka will continue to fortify the strong friendship, cultural ties and respect shared between both our nations,” Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted.

Bhikkhus from Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan, and Cambodia, and foreign envoys attended the event, according to Indian Media.

The Sri Lankan delegation was led by Minister Namal Rajapaksa and four State Ministers, including D.V. Chanaka, Jeevan Thondaman and Sisira Jayakody.

The highlight of the event was the Exposition of Holy Buddha Relic (Kapilawasthu Relics) brought from Waskaduwa Sri Subuddhi Raja Mahavihara Temple by the Mahanayaka of the temple in Kushinagar.

Minister Namal Rajapaksa handed over the first copy of the English, Sinhala and Tamil translations of the Bhagwad Gita to Prime Minister Modi. The translation of the sacred text was commissioned by Prime Minister Rajapaksa as a symbol of people-to-people friendship and cultural similarities of the two countries.

Minister Namal Rajapaksa who met the Indian Prime Minister on the sidelines of the event conveyed that Buddhism was the greatest gift from India to Sri Lanka. Kushinagar is a sacred Buddhist site where the Buddha is believed to have delivered his last sermon and attained Mahaparinirvana. It is considered the Buddha’s final resting place and is among the most important pilgrim spots for Buddhists world over.

In August 2020, the Indian Prime Minister through High Commissioner in Colombo Gopal Baglay, invited Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to send the first international flight to newly upgraded Kushinagar airport.

The invitation was extended with a congratulatory message from Prime Minister Modi following the SLPP’s victory at the Parliamentary Election. The Indian Government took a decision to declare Kushinagar as an international airport in June last year, as part of efforts to connect Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India to promote tourism in the country.

The Sri Lankan delegation at the Kushinagar airport was received by Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath and several Union ministers.

During the visit, they paid respects at Parinirvan Stupa and Ramabhar Stupa in Kushinagar before proceeding to Varanansi, Parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Modi. The delegation returned to Sri Lanka on Thursday.