THE SRI Lankan Government’s decision to construct a new rest house for pilgrims at Sanchi will add another chapter in the Indo-Sri Lankan friendship.
The foundation stone for the same will be laid at Sanchi at a function on Saturday. Sri Lanka’s Urban Development and Water Supply Minister Dinesh Gunawardena is arriving for it. The Lankan Government has already sanctioned Rs 2 crore for the proposed rest house. On November 26, a special cultural event will be held with Indo-Lanka friendship as a theme.
The Lankan Government has decided to build a new rest house at Sanchi to provide good accommodation facilities to pilgrims, who visit Sanchi because of their association with Buddisim.
As a special gesture, Raisen district administration has also decided to open the sacred relics of Sariputta and Moggallana, the two disciples of the Lord Buddha, on Saturday so that the Sri Lankan Minister and delegation accompanying him could perform the puja. When contacted, Raisen Collector Arun Kumar Bhatt confirmed that the Lankan Government has already sanctioned Rs 2 crore for the rest house.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, Bhatt also confirmed that permission has been taken form the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for the display of sacred relics. Every year, these relics are kept for dharshan on the last Sunday of November, he said. However, this year the relics would also be opened on Saturday so that the VIPs from Lanka could perform prayers. Arrangement has been made because there will be a big rush on Sunday as devotees from the country and outside India come to perform prayers, Bhatt said.
The Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Association and the Indian Government have keys of the safe where the sacred relics are kept. The safe could be opened only with the keys of two parties.
The relics of Sariputra and Maha Moggalana were found by Colonel Cunningham in 1851 in this stupa, enshrined at the centre of the dome on the level of the terrace. Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Association is celebrating this year as 2550th Buddha Jayanti and organising programmes at various places in India associated with Buddha.
The Centre has already assured its full cooperation to the Sri Lanka Maha Bodhi Association to hold year-long Buddha Jayanti celebrations in India. The Association discussed with the Indian authorities how it plans to hold the 2550th Buddha Jayanti in Sanchi.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Society cultural secretary Saman Athavdahetti said 50,000 people are likely to participate in the main event. For this, Indian railway authorities also made special arrangements. Many trains passing from Sanchi will stop at the Buddhist centre so that pilgrims coming to pay homage to the relics reach Sanchi without any difficulty, Athavdahetti said.