Modi in Sri Lanka: PM attends Vesak Day celebrations, Colombo thanks him
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day state visit to Sri Lanka, participated in the opening ceremony of the 14th International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo on Friday. Sri Lankan leader thanked Modi for the visit
Modi, who is the chief guest, arrived at the venue on Friday morning and was received by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe amid traditional fanfare. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was also present.
Vesak Day marks the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe thanked Modi for visiting the country.
“Proud to host Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo. I want to thank PM Modi for being the Chief Guest during the celebrations,” India’s PMO quoted Wickremesinghe as saying.
“Teachings of Buddhism are relevant in today’s world. Buddhism shows a moderate path and need to consolidate social justice,” Wickremesinghe said.
India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said Sri Lanka termed Prime Minister Modi as ”one of their own”
Sri Lanka’s minister for justice N Buddhashasana said Modi’s “presence speaks of deep reverence for Buddhism”.
It is Modi’s second trip to Sri Lanka as Prime Minister after March 2015. The visit follows an invitation from Sirisena.
This is the first time that Sri Lanka is hosting the International Vesak Day, recognised by the UN. The theme of the event is “Buddhist teachings for social justice and sustainable world peace”.
Later on Friday, Modi will open an India-funded 150-bed multi-speciality hospital at Dickoya in the central hill district which is home to Tamil tea plantation workers of Indian origin.
Modi will also pray at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic at Kandy. The golden-roofed Kandy temple houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic -- a tooth of Lord Buddha.
In Pallekele, Modi will unveil a plaque commemorating the foundation laying of the Faculty of Kandyan Dance at the Sri Lankan International Buddhist Academy that will be constructed with India’s grant assistance.
Although no bilateral talks are scheduled, the visit is expected to give fresh boost to India-Sri Lanka ties. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had visited India in April.
On Thursday, President Sirisena called PM Modi “a great human being” and said it was “wonderful” to meet him.