High Commission of Sri Lanka in India

Inaugural international flight to Kushinagar PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the International Airport in Kushinagar on 20 October 2021 on the auspicious Wap Poya Day with the inaugural international flight operating from Colombo to Kushinagar. Kushinagar has a pre-eminent position given that the Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana here. It may be recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced during the Virtual Bilateral Summit with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on 26 September 2020 that the first international flight to Kushinagar will be for a group of Sri Lankan pilgrims.

The delegation from Sri Lanka on the inaugural flight will be led by Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Development Co-ordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development. The delegation will also include four State Ministers and one MP in addition to close to 100 senior Buddhist monks, belonging to different sects and prominent temples, spread across Sri Lanka. Senior officials from Sri Lanka also form a part of the delegation. To mark this important occasion, a symbolic gift in the form of two photographs will also be presented to the people of India by the people of Sri Lanka. These two framed photographs, to be installed in the new Airport, feature two murals by eminent Sri Lankan painter Solias Mendis, from the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara which depict the gift of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by India.

Kushinagar is considered to be a focal point of the Buddhist Circuit in India and the new international airport is likely to strengthen people to people interactions between India and Sri Lanka substantially. The inaugural flight not only underscores the deep people to people linkages but also millennia old civilizational ties between the two neigbouring countries. Buddhism is central to the abiding cultural, spiritual and linguistics bonds in this bilateral relationship. 

The Sri Lankan delegation will also visit Varanasi during their stay in India. Special prayers shall be held at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple for the delegation on 20 October 2021. They will also have a Ganga Darshan before they return to Colombo on the afternoon of 21 October 2021. 

Adding to the significance of the occasion, the sacred Kapilavastu Buddha relics from the Rajaguru Sri Subhuthi Maha Vihara of Waskaduwa will also travel on the inaugural flight on Wap Poya Day. The sacred relics are being ceremonially brought on board the first international flight to Kushinagar by Most Ven. Waskaduwe Mahindawamsa Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent of the Rajaguru Sri Subhuthi Maha Vihara who is the present custodian of the relics. 

The sacred relics will be received with due reverence at the new international airport in Kushinagar on arrival and will be accorded full State honours by the Government of India. Exposition of the relics will be held in several Indian cities including Kushinagar and Sarnath. 

These sacred relics in Sri Lanka were discovered in the late 19th century in India and form a part of the Kapilavastu relics.  They were brought to Sri Lanka by the Most Ven. Waskaduwe Rajaguru Sri Subhuthi Nayaka Thero and are currently kept at the Waskaduwa Viharaya in Kalutara. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a special mention about this temple in his virtual address delivered on Vesak Day in May 2020. 

The relics travelled to India in October 2015 as well. It may also be recalled that the venerated Kapilavastu relics in India, which have been taken out of India only six times in the past, were sent to Sri Lanka in 1978 and in 2012. 

Both the inaugural flight to Kushinagar and exposition of the relics attest to the commonalities shared by the people of Sri Lanka and India. 

High Commission of Sri Lanka New Delhi

19 October 2021