Over 100 Sri Lankan Buddhist clergy, Namal Rajapaksa to attend Kushinagar international airport inauguration

New Delhi: Sri Lanka’s cabinet minister for Youth and sports Namal Rajapaksa and hundred plus members of Buddhist clergy will be in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar at the inauguration of its international airport.

Kushinagar is key to Buddhist pilgrim circuit and it is believed that founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana at the location. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister of the state Yogi Adityanath both will be present at the location. Number of foreign envoys will also be present at the grand opening.

Namal Rajapaksa is the son of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and a member of parliament and his presence at the high-profile event shows increased engagement between the 2 sides.

Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla both were in the country recently. Later this year, Sri Lanka will be hosting BIMSTEC summit, and if it happens in person Indian PM Modi is expected to visit the country.

Increased focus has been to connect Indian and Sri Lankan Buddha connect. Recently in a conversation with WION, Sri Lankan Consul General in Mumbai Ambassador Dr. Valsan said, “Buddhism is the biggest link given to us by India….Dream of every Buddhist in Sri Lanka is to pay homage at least once in a lifetime at pilgrimage sites in India”

Other than that focus is also on the Ramayana link. The new Sri Lankan high commissioner Milinda Marogoda has brought with him a stone from “Sita Eliya” in Sri Lanka. The stone will be used during the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya. Sita Eliya is believed to be the place where Goddess Sita was held captive by Demon King Ravana. In Ramayana, the area has been mentioned as Ashok Vatika.