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PM Modi lays foundation stone for India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in Nepal’s Lumbini

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba perform  ‘shilanyas’ ceremony of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture & Heritage.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba perform ‘shilanyas’ ceremony of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture & Heritage. | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba on Monday laid the foundation stone for the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in the Lumbini Monastic Zone here.

Once completed, the Centre will be a world-class facility welcoming pilgrims and tourists from all over the world to enjoy the essence of spiritual aspects of Buddhism.

“Taking forward our cultural ties. PM @narendramodi and PM @SherBDeuba perform Shilanyas ceremony of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture & Heritage,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter.

“The centre is being built at the initiative of the International Buddhist Confederation, New Delhi,” he said.

The Centre will be a modern building, NetZero compliant in terms of energy, water and waste handling, and will house prayer halls, meditation centres, library, exhibition hall, cafeteria, offices and other amenities, the MEA said in a statement.

The Centre will be constructed by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), New Delhi, on a plot allocated to the IBC by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), under an agreement between the IBC and the LDT signed in March 2022, it said.

After the “shilanyaas” ceremony, which was performed by monks belonging to three major Buddhist traditions, Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, the two Prime Ministers also unveiled a model of the Centre, the MEA said.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi offered prayers at the sacred Maya Devi temple during his visit to Lumbini in Nepal on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.

He was accompanied by his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba during his visit to the historic temple, the birth place of Gautam Buddha.

“Beginning the Nepal visit with prayers at the sacred Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) tweeted.

“On the auspicious occasion of Buddha Purnima, both Prime Ministers offered pooja and prayers at the sacred Mayadevi temple in Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha,” Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Modi visited the Maya Devi Temple as the first stop of his one-day visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

PM Modi was accompanied by PM Deuba and his spouse Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba.

The leaders paid their respects at the Marker Stone inside the temple premises, which pinpoints the exact birth spot of Lord Buddha. They attended the pooja conducted as per Buddhist rituals, it said.

The two Prime Ministers also lit lamps near the Ashoka Pillar located adjacent to the temple.

The pillar, which was erected by emperor Ashoka in 249 BC, bears the first epigraphic evidence of Lumbini being the birthplace of Lord Buddha.

Thereafter, the two leaders watered the Bodhi tree sapling from Bodh Gaya which was gifted by PM Modi to Lumbini in 2014 and also signed the temple’s visitor’s book.

“A timeless bond of friendship… Prime Ministers @narendramodi and @SherBDeuba at the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini,” the PMO tweeted along with a picture of Prime Minister Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Deuba watering the Bodhi tree sapling.

PM Modi, who is in the Himalayan nation at the invitation of PM Deuba, is paying a day-long visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.

“Landed in Nepal. Happy to be among the wonderful people of Nepal on the special occasion of Buddha Purnima. Looking forward to the programmes in Lumbini,” Prime Minister Modi said on Twitter upon his arrival.

He was received by PM Deuba in Lumbini.

“I would like to thank PM @SherBDeuba for the warm welcome in Lumbini,” PM Modi said in a tweet.

It is the Prime Minister’s fifth visit to Nepal since 2014. Modi and his entourage arrived here on a special Indian Air Force helicopter from Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.

Lumbini, located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, is one of the holiest places of Buddhism, as Lord Buddha was born there.

During the visit, he will deliver an address at the Buddha Jayanti celebrations organised by the Lumbini Development Trust.

Prime Minister Modi and his Nepalese counterpart PM Deuba will also hold a bilateral meeting in Lumbini.

"During the meeting, they will exchange views on Nepal-India cooperation and matters of mutual interests," according to a statement issued by Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In a statement on Sunday, PM Modi said he was looking forward to meeting Nepalese Prime Minister Deuba again after their "productive" discussions during his visit to India last month.

Both sides will continue to build on the shared understanding to expand cooperation in multiple areas, including in hydropower, development and connectivity, he said.

"Our ties with Nepal are unparalleled. The civilisational and people-to-people contacts between India and Nepal form the enduring edifice of our close relationship.

"My visit is intended to celebrate and further deepen these time-honoured linkages that have been fostered through centuries and recorded in our long history of intermingling," PM Modi said in his departure statement on Sunday.

On Friday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said Prime Minister Modi's talks with his Nepalese counterpart Deuba at Lumbini in Nepal on May 16 will have a comprehensive agenda to further expand cooperation in multiple areas including hydropower and connectivity.

According to Indian Embassy sources, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary Kwatra, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other senior officials will be in the Prime Minister’s entourage.

PM Deuba was in Delhi last month in his first bilateral visit abroad after becoming Prime Minister for the fifth time in July 2021.

During the visit, which was aimed at injecting fresh momentum into bilateral ties, PM Deuba held talks with PM Modi on a number of key issues, including the boundary issue.

Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old "Roti-Beti" relationship.

The landlocked Himalayan nation shares a border of over 1,850 kms with five Indian states - Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.


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Printable version | May 16, 2022 9:06:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pm-modi-arrives-in-lumbini-on-buddha-purnima/article65418779.ece