Colombo, October 31 (Indian High Commission): The High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay, called on Agga Maha Pandita Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawansa Thera, Mahanayake of Amarapura Nikaya and sought his blessings for the prosperity of people of India and Sri Lanka and strengthening friendly relations between them.
The High Commissioner recalled his arrival in Sri Lanka in the Holy Week of Vesak and stated that he felt particularly fortunate to be seeking the blessings of Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawansa Thera on this Vap Poya Day,
Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawansa Thera recalled his many trips to India and conveyed that his blessings were always with the people of Sri Lanka and India for their peace and prosperity.
The Mahanayake conveyed his wished for enhanced people-to-people contact between the two countries and increased regional connectivity for the ease of Buddhist pilgrims to visit the various holy sites in the Indian subcontinent.
High Commissioner Baglay noted that the Government of India had recently declared the Kushinagar Airport in India, the place of Lord Buddha’s Mahaparinibbana, as an international airport, to allow Buddhist pilgrims from around the world to visit the revered site associated with Lord Buddha with ease. He also mentioned that given the pre-eminence of India Sri Lanka Buddhist ties, both countries agreed that the first inaugural flight to this airport will be from Sri Lanka.
The High Commissioner also discussed the implementation of the USD 15 million grant from India for promotion of Buddhist ties between India and Sri Lanka. The Grant was announced by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during the Virtual Bilateral Summit held between India and Sri Lanka on 26 September, 2020. The High Commissioner noted that this is a first of its kind grant announcement by India and stated that the grant may be utilised for construction/renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchanges, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exposition of The Buddha’s relics, strengthening engagement of Buddhist scholars and clergy.
The High Commissioner also noted that Buddhism is one of the strongest pillars connecting the two nations and civilizations from the time when the Great Indian Emperor Ashoka sent his children Arhat Mahinda and Theri Sangamitta to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha at the request of King Devanampiya Tissa of Sri Lanka.