Sources confirmed to Financial Express Online that diplomats from 12 countries were present during the ceremony.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (Oct 20, 2021) formally inaugurated the International Airport at Kushinagar and to mark this historic occasion an inaugural international flight from Sri Lanka landed at this airport.
Sources confirmed to Financial Express Online that diplomats from 12 countries were present during the ceremony. Countries including Mongolia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Republic of Korea, Japan, Nepal, Singapore, Vietnam, and Cambodia, were present.
Last June, the Union Cabinet had declared Kushinagar Airport as an International airport. And later in 2020 at the end of a virtual summit between the two countries, ‘Mitratva Magga’ was mentioned in the joint statement.
Who was on the flight?
According to sources, on board the inaugural flight from Sri Lanka there was a delegation, led by Cabinet Minister Namal Rajapaksa, who is the son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He is handling several ministerial charges including Youth & Sports, Development Coordination and Monitoring and he is also State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development.
He is accompanied by a big delegation of around 100 senior Buddhist monks, 4 State Ministers and other senior officials.
They have all arrived from Colombo on the auspicious Vap Poya Day.
State ministers who have arrived in the sacred city of Kushinagar include: Mr. Vijitha Berugoda, of Dhamma Schools, Pirivenas and Bhikkhu Education; Mr DV Chanaka, of Aviation and Export Zones Development; Mr. Jeewan Thondaman, of Estate Housing & Community Infrastructure and son of late Minister Arumugam Thondaman; Mr. Sisira Jayakody, of Indigenous Medicine Promotion, Rural and Ayurvedic Hospitals Development and Community Health.
The monks who have arrived are from different sects and prominent temples. They represent 22 districts of Sri Lanka. Amongst them is the senior most monk in the delegation is Most Venerable Wedaruwe Upali Anu Nayaka Thero.
Buddhism: India and Sri Lanka Connect:
It connects the people of the two countries. Accorrding to sources, 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). Then Princess Sanghamitra (Arahant Sanghamitta Theri) arrived followed by the children of the Indian Emperor Ashoka – this was during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa in Sri Lanka.
It is also central to the civilizational connection between the peoples of the two nations.
For the promotion of bilateral Buddhist ties, during the virtual bilateral summit with PM Mahinda Rajapaksa last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced USD 15 million.
More about Kushinagar
Because of its rich heritage, Kushinagar enjoys a pre-eminent position on the global map. This is the holy city where Buddha breathed his last and attained Mahaparirvana.
Other sites which are of Buddhist significance include: Lumbini, Sravasti, and Kapilvastu, which are not far away.
Due to heavy traffic of the devotees from several countries like Japan, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, to Kushinagar, there was a long standing demand for an international airport.
Today’s inaugural flight is going to help in increasing traffic and a larger number of visitors to Kushinagar especially from Buddhist countries, including Sri Lanka.