Buddha’s relics excavated in India returns from Sri Lanka after 141 years, given state guest honour

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October 26, 2021 4:31 PM

The relic got the status of state guest by the Ministry of Culture and resided on Seat 1A on Sri Lankan Airlines flight. The relics were kept on a casket and were covered with white cloth and were kept on an elevated platform as per the travel rules for relics.

budha relics, budha relics from sri lanka, inaugural flight between Colombo and Kushinagar, India seri lanka relationsExposition of The Buddha’s relics in each other’s countries is an important component of Buddhist ties.

The only documented authentic relics of the Buddha in Sri Lanka made its way to India with a 123-member Sri Lankan delegation led by Cabinet Minister Namal Rajapaksha who visited for the inaugural flight between Colombo and Kushinagar on October 20. The sacred Piprahwa relic is kept at Waskaduwaa Viharaya in Sri Lanka’s Kalutara.

The relic got the status of state guest by the Ministry of Culture and resided on Seat 1A on Sri Lankan Airlines flight. The relics were kept on a casket and were covered with white cloth and were kept on an elevated platform as per the travel rules for relics. Waskaduwa Mahanayake Thero, head monk of Waskaduwa relics temple, was given the seat beside the relic. The delegation was received by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath along with members from the International Buddhist Centre dressed in white. Ser Lankan cultural drum was strum as they were escorted to the car.

Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy performed ceremonial worship of the sacred Buddha relic on arrival on the occasion of Ashwin Poornima. Prime minister Modi also offered his prayers to the holy relics. Mahanaya monks present there performed the puja rituals.

The sacred relic returned to India after 141 years after it was given to Sri Lanka as its token for friendship.

The excavation of the relics happened in India. 1n 1898, a large area was excavated in Piprahwa, in Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar district that then belonged to British landowner, William Claxton Peppe. The site was 160 kms from Kushinagar, where Gautam Budha attained Mahaparinirvana, his final resting place.

The archaeologists found a big stone box with caskets on the site and one of them had on it inscribed a Buddhist message that was translated by then Subhuthi Mahanayake Thero of Waskaduwa Temple. The scripture said that the brothers, sisters, and children of Sakya’s carried the noble deed of depositing Buddha’s relics and was then accepted as authentic relics by the Ministry of Culture then.

Later the relic was divided into three parts and a part was sent to King of Burma another to the King of Thailand, where Buddhism was a prominent religion and another part is a token of gratitude to Subhuthi Mahanayake Thero who helped the archaeologists during excavation. The same share is now embedded in three lotuses, encased in a crystal ball and preserved in a casket measuring 30cm x 26.5 cm, and was brought to India for public display.

Showcasing Buddha’s relics to other countries apart from the home country is an important part of Buddhist relations. Kapilavastu relics were taken to Sri Lanka on two occasions in 1978 and 2012 and were taken out of their residing place to another country six times in total.

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