High Commission of Sri Lanka in India

Ceremonial departure of sacred Kapilavastu relics to Sri Lanka for exposition PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

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A high level delegation led by Indian Culture Minister Kumari Selja left for Sri Lanka with the sacred Kapilavastu relics on 19 August 2012 by a special Indian Air Force Aircraft. The members of the delegation include Mr Ravindra Singh, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Culture of India, Mr Pravin Srivastava, Director General, National Museum of India, and Dr Gautam Sengupta, Director General of Archeological Survey of India.

The exposition of the Kapilavastu sacred relics in Sri Lanka which will be held from 19 August to 4 September 2012 in seven venues, is the result of a personal request of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. During the landmark State Visit of President Rajapaksa to India in June 2010, it was decided that the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment of Prince Siddharatha as Gautama Buddha (Sambuddhatva Jayanthi) will be commemorated by India and Sri Lanka through joint activities. Following this agreement, President Rajapaksa requested the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to afford Sri Lankan Buddhists an opportunity to pay homage to the sacred Kapilavastu Relics by allowing the Relics to be taken to Sri Lanka as a part of the commemoration of the 2600th year of the Sambuddhatva Jayanthi.

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Prior to the departure of the sacred relics, High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam and the staff at the Sri Lanka High Commission in India organized a religious ceremony at the Palam Special Airport in New Delhi. Sri Lankan Maha Sangha (Buddhist Priests) resident in various Buddhist sites in India who were present on the occasion conducted religious ceremony and invoked blessings on the delegation and for the success of their mission as well as for stronger India-Sri Lanka ties. Ven Dr Kahawatte Siri Sumedha Thero, President Indo-Jambudeepa International Buddhist Association, Varanasi, Ven Egodabedde Uparatana Thero of the Mahabodhi Society of India (MBSI), Kolkata, Ven Baddegama Nanda Thero of MBSI, Bodhgaya, Ven Hakurugammana Saddhatissa Thero of the MBSI, Varanasi, Ven Ratmalane Pagnajeewa Thero of the Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka, Sanchi, Ven Pallegama Vijitha Thero of the Sri Lanka Buddhist Pilgrims Rest, New Delhi, Ven Bibile Sumanasiri Thero and Ven Rambukwelle Sugathawansa Thero of the MBSI, New Delhi were in attendance on behalf of Sri Lankan monks resident in India.

At the conclusion  of the religious ceremony, High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam ceremoniously carried the sacred relics from the VIP Room of the Palam Special Airport, where the religious ceremony was held, to the Special Aircraft.

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The Relics of the Gautama Buddha which are known to the world as the ‘Kapilavastu Relics’ are from a site in Bihar first discovered in 1898 which is believed to be the ancient City of Kapilavastu. This epoch making discovery was at a stupa site, Piprahwa. The relic casket discovered in 1898 bore the inscription “The shrine for relics of the Buddha, the August One, is that of the Sakyas, …”.

The first exposition of the sacred Relics of Kapilavastu outside India was in Sri Lanka in 1978. Subsequent expositions of the Relics took place in Mongolia in August 1993, in Singapore in July 1994, in South Korea in 1995 and in Thailand in 1996. Subsequently, taking into consideration the inestimable value and delicate nature of the Relics, the authorities in India entrusted with the care of the Relics decided that the sacred Kapilavastu Relics will henceforth remain as a venerable object at the National Museum of India in New Delhi and will not be taken outside India for public veneration. 

However, the request made by President Rajapaksa in the 2600th year of the Sambuddhatva Jayanthi received special consideration at the highest level of the Government of India. Making an exception, the Government of India decided to lend the sacred Relics to Sri Lanka for public veneration, once again. The sacred Relics are thus being brought to Sri Lanka after three decades since their first exposition in 1978.

Announcing the decision of the Government of India during an official visit to Sri Lanka last year (2011), the Speaker of the Parliament of India (Lok Sabha) Srimati Meira Kumar stated that “this sacred expositions would have a calming and peaceful effect in the region and spread the word of non-violence”. 

Authorities of both countries worked hard, with commitment and perseverance, to make this sacred exposition a reality by making substantial effort in terms of logistics, safety of the sacred Relics, facilities for devotees to pay homage, and other matters that a monumental event of this nature involves. 

The sacred Relics will be received in Sri Lanka at a stately Ceremony led by  President Mahinda Rajapaksa, with the participation of the Venerable Maha Sangha and other dignitaries. 

This sacred event is yet another manifestation of the close fraternal ties that happily exist between India and Sri Lanka since time immemorial, especially from the days of Emperor Asoka whose son and daughter carried the message of Buddhism to Sri Lanka 2,301 years ago.

It is a matter of immense satisfaction that the noble initiative taken by President Rajapaksa has become a reality with the sacred Kapilavastu Relics of Gautama Buddha being brought to Sri Lanka for the nation to pay tribute, and in particular for Buddhists to pay homage, in continuation of the celebration of the enlightenment of Prince Siddhartha Gautama 2600 years ago in the land of Jambudvipa. 

High Commission of Sri Lanka
New Delhi
19 August 2012
 

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