Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh, India will be inaugurated next Wednesday with a flight of a 125-member delegation including 100 Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, Daily Mirror learns.
The delegation is headed by Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kushinagar International Airport and will also lay the foundation stone of a medical college. According to informed sources, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and State Minister D.V. Chanaka will also be in the delegation.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi said two historical photographs would be presented on the occasion to Indian people by Sri Lankan people with the blessings of the Sri Lankan Maha Sangha. The High Commission has taken steps to install these photographs on a proposal by the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Milinda Moragoda.
These photographs feature two murals painted by the eminent Sri Lankan painter Solias Mendis (1897-1975) in the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara, which is the Buddhist Temple believed to be the venue of the third visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka.
“India’s greatest emperor, the Buddhist ruler Dharmashoka, sent both his son and daughter to Sri Lanka as emissaries to introduce and spread the teachings of the Buddha. The first mural depicts Arahat Bhikkhu Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka upon arriving on the island.
The second mural depicts the arrival to Sri Lanka of There Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta, the daughter of the emperor, bearing the right-hand branch sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree under which Gotama Siddhartha attained enlightenment. The sapling which was planted in the ancient capital of Anuradhapura of Sri Lanka in 249 BCE, has survived for over two millennia. The tree bears the distinction of being the oldest historically recorded living tree in the world and is revered by Buddhists worldwide.
These two historical events that occurred in the 3rd century BCE marked the commencement of Buddhist civilization in Sri Lanka and epitomize the strong and unbreakable civilizational bonds that exist between Sri Lanka and India.