Sri Lankan religious and political leaders welcomed the Holy Relics of Lord Buddha from Pakistan’s Gandhara region in an impressive ceremony last night at Bandaranayake International airport at Katunayake.
Sri Lankan Minister for Public Administration and Management Hon. Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Minister for Sustainable Development and Wildlife Hon. Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Senior Monks, high ranking government officials, religious scholars, as well as Deputy High Commissioner and officers of the High Commission of Pakistan received the holy relics amidst hordes of devotees. The Secretary National History and Literary Heritage S. Mohsin Haqqani, Joint Secretary NH&LH and the curator of Taxila museum were also present on the occasion.
The most sacred relics includes two holy bone relics of Lord Buddha, a golden Casket which contains the holy relics and a stone reliquary in stupa shape. The holy relics are part of collection from Taxila Museum of Pakistan, which is located at one of the most important archaeological sites in Asia.
The religious leaders performed special pooja on arrival of the most sacred relics which will be in the island for exposition around the country.
While speaking on the occasion, the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan, Dr. Sarfraz Ahmed Khan Sipra informed the gathering that Government of Pakistan is holding Wesak Festival for first time in the history of Pakistan at Taxila valley, which was the historic capital of the aniciant Gandhara region Pakistan. He said that only Sri Lankan Senior Monks, religious scholars, pilgrims and media personalities are invited by the government of Pakistan for the celebrations.
While recalling the successful visit of 40 Sri Lankan Monks who recently visited Pakistan to witness the rich Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan, DR Sipra said that such exchanges will further strengthen the already existing deep rooted cultural relations between the two friendly nations.
The advent and development of Buddhism owes a great deal to the ancient land of Pakistan. It was here that the religious activities reached its climax through well-organized missionaries and ultimately made it a world religion.
The land of Gandhara where the celebrated faith evolved is more or less a triangle about 100 kilometers across east to west and 70 kilometers from north to south, on the west of the Indus river in Pakistan. It is surrounded on three sides by mountains and covers the vast areas of today’s Peshawar valley, the hilly tracts of Swat (Udyana), Buner and the Taxila valley.
The name ‘Gandhara’ is found for the first time in the Rig-Veda, the sacred ancient hymns of the Hindus. The name also appears in some Persian inscriptions, particularly in the Behistun inscription (528-486 B.C) and in the inscription discovered from the ruins of the Susa Palace in Persia (An archeological site belonging to 6th century B.C).
Featuring civilizations dating back to 9000 BC, Pakistan’s ancient history is richly illustrated by archeological sites and imposing monuments punctuated all over its length and breadth.
The Ghandara trail, having its capital and cultural hub at the present day Taxilla, was part of the silk route and many Buddhist pilgrims from different countries used to visit these sites on this historical route.
The exposition of the most sacred relics in Sri Lanka will commence at the Temple Trees on the auspicious day of Wesak on 21st May 2016 and will be exhibited at famous temples around the Island until Full Moon Poson Poya Day.