Kushinagar: Sri Lankan sports minister Namal Rajapaksa met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Parinirvana Stupa on Wednesday after the inauguration of the Kushinagar International Airport in the city.
Following the inauguration ceremony, Sri Lanka’s Cabinet Minister gifted a Sinhala version of the Bhagavad Gita to PM Modi, which also carried a message from Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Speaking at an event organised to mark Abhidhamma Day, Rajapaksa thanked Prime Minister Modi for extending a grant of USD 15 million to Sri Lanka to strengthen the Buddhist ties between the two nations.
Rajapaksa said, “It gives me great pleasure and honour to be on the inaugural international flight to Kushinagar on the auspicious day of Vap Poya Day. I recall it was Indian PM Modi who suggested to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister during the Virtual Bilateral Summit with Sri Lanka in September 2020, that 100 members of Buddhist clergy must join for the inaugural flight to Kushinagar operated by Sri Lankan airlines. It’s an honour we will cherish for years to come.”
Rajapaksa said that Buddhism is the greatest gift India had given to Sri Lanka. “Ever since it (Buddhism) arrived in Sri Lanka, the relationship between our countries has been growing,” he said.
He further noted that Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa commissioned the translation of Bhagavad Gita in all languages spoken in Sri Lanka.
Earlier, sports minister Rajapaksa lauded the gesture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of inviting and making the Sri Lankan airlines to be the first to land at the airport.
We believe there are numerous travellers who travel to India for Buddhist pilgrimage, and opening an airport at such a holy place for the Buddhists will not only benefit the Buddhists of Sri Lanka but also Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world,” said Rajapaksa.