Indian PM inaugurates Kushinagar airport eyeing to deepen Buddhist connect globally

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Airport at Kushinagar on Wednesday amid the arrival of the inaugural international flight from Sri Lanka signifying strong Buddhist links between the two nations.

On the invitation extended by the Prime Minister during the Virtual Bilateral Summit with Sri Lanka in September 2020 and as mentioned in the Joint Statement, ‘Mitratva Magga’ released after the meeting, a delegation, led by Lankan Cabinet Minister Namal Rajapaksa, son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, (Minister of Youth & Sports, Minister of Development Co-ordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development), comprising around 100 senior Buddhist monks, 4 State Ministers and other senior officials arrived at the sacred city of Kushinagar from Colombo on the auspicious Vap Poya Day.

The State Ministers include DV Chanaka, the State Minister of Aviation and Export Zones Development; Mr. Jeewan Thondaman, State Minister of Estate Housing & Community Infrastructure and son of late Minister Arumugam Thondaman; Sisira Jayakody, State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Promotion, Rural and Ayurvedic Hospitals Development and Community Health; and Vijitha Berugoda, State Minister of Dhamma Schools, Pirivenas and Bhikkhu Education.

The senior monks belonging to different sects and prominent temples, represent more than 22 districts of Sri Lanka. The senior most monk in the delegation is Most Venerable Wedaruwe Upali Anu Nayaka Thero.

Buddhism is considered to be an important bridge that connects the people of India and Sri Lanka. The advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC is linked with the arrival of Prince Mahendra (also known as Arahant Mahinda Thera) and later of Princess Sanghamitra (Arahant Sanghamitta Theri), the children of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of king Devanampiya Tissa in Sri Lanka.

Buddhism is also central to the civilizational connect between India and Lanka. Underscoring these bonds, Modi announced a USD 15 million for the promotion of bilateral Buddhist ties during the Virtual Summit with PM Mahinda Rajapaksa in September last year.

Kushinagar enjoys a pre-eminent position on the global map due to its rich heritage. The Buddha attained Mahaparirvana in this city. Other sites of Buddhist significance such as Sravasti, Kapilvastu and Lumbini are located nearby. All these factors attracted devotees from several countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Burma to Kushinagar and they used to offer daily prayers at the Mahaparinirvana Temple before COVID-19.

The inaugural international flight from Sri Lanka would pave way for increased traffic and greater number of visitors to Kushinagar particularly from Buddhist countries, including Sri Lanka. It needs emphasis that abiding people linkages between the two nations are manifested in the scale of tourists flowing from India too. In fact, almost two-thirds of incoming arrivals in Sri Lanka last month were from India.

Foreign dignitaries hail Kushinagar airport inauguration, say it will boost tourism

Several foreign dignitaries, including Sri Lankan minister Namal Rajapaksa, on Wednesday hailed the inauguration of the Kushinagar International Airport, and said it will boost the number of Buddhist tourists visiting India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated the new international airport at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, and said his government has taken a number of steps to instil new energy in the aviation sector.

“Tourism between India and Sri Lanka has always been very robust. We have a lot of Indians coming to Sri Lanka and also Sri Lankan pilgrims coming to different states (in India), especially Varanasi, Prime Minister’s constituency,” Rajapaksa told reporters at the inauguration event.

“So now we believe that opening up Kushinagar will increase the number of pilgrims (coming to India) from Sri Lanka and also Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world,” the Sri Lankan Cabinet minister said.

Ambassador of Thailand to India Pattarat Hongtong said the Kushinagar airport will improve tourism between the two countries and facilitate Buddhist travellers.

Ambassador of Vietnam to India Pham Sanh Chau also said that the Kushinagar Airport will give a boost to the numbers of Buddhist tourists visiting India.

The Kushinagar airport has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 260 crore and will facilitate domestic and international pilgrims to visit the ‘mahaparinirvana’ site of Lord Buddha and is an endeavour to connect the Buddhist pilgrimage holy sites around the world, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Indian PM inaugurates Kushinagar airport eyeing to deepen Buddhist connect globally

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Airport at Kushinagar on Wednesday amid the arrival of the inaugural international flight from Sri Lanka signifying strong Buddhist links between the two nations.

On the invitation extended by the Prime Minister during the Virtual Bilateral Summit with Sri Lanka in September 2020 and as mentioned in the Joint Statement, ‘Mitratva Magga’ released after the meeting, a delegation, led by Lankan Cabinet Minister Namal Rajapaksa, son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, (Minister of Youth & Sports, Minister of Development Co-ordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development), comprising around 100 senior Buddhist monks, 4 State Ministers and other senior officials arrived at the sacred city of Kushinagar from Colombo on the auspicious Vap Poya Day.

The State Ministers include DV Chanaka, the State Minister of Aviation and Export Zones Development; Mr. Jeewan Thondaman, State Minister of Estate Housing & Community Infrastructure and son of late Minister Arumugam Thondaman; Sisira Jayakody, State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Promotion, Rural and Ayurvedic Hospitals Development and Community Health; and Vijitha Berugoda, State Minister of Dhamma Schools, Pirivenas and Bhikkhu Education.

The senior monks belonging to different sects and prominent temples, represent more than 22 districts of Sri Lanka. The senior most monk in the delegation is Most Venerable Wedaruwe Upali Anu Nayaka Thero.

Buddhism is considered to be an important bridge that connects the people of India and Sri Lanka. The advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC is linked with the arrival of Prince Mahendra (also known as Arahant Mahinda Thera) and later of Princess Sanghamitra (Arahant Sanghamitta Theri), the children of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of king Devanampiya Tissa in Sri Lanka.

Buddhism is also central to the civilizational connect between India and Lanka. Underscoring these bonds, Modi announced a USD 15 million for the promotion of bilateral Buddhist ties during the Virtual Summit with PM Mahinda Rajapaksa in September last year.

Kushinagar enjoys a pre-eminent position on the global map due to its rich heritage. The Buddha attained Mahaparirvana in this city. Other sites of Buddhist significance such as Sravasti, Kapilvastu and Lumbini are located nearby. All these factors attracted devotees from several countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Burma to Kushinagar and they used to offer daily prayers at the Mahaparinirvana Temple before COVID-19.

The inaugural international flight from Sri Lanka would pave way for increased traffic and greater number of visitors to Kushinagar particularly from Buddhist countries, including Sri Lanka. It needs emphasis that abiding people linkages between the two nations are manifested in the scale of tourists flowing from India too. In fact, almost two-thirds of incoming arrivals in Sri Lanka last month were from India.