A high level delegation led by Indian Culture Minister Kumari Selja left for Sri Lanka with the sacred Kapilavastu relics on 19 August 2012 by a special Indian Air Force Aircraft. The members of the delegation include Mr Ravindra Singh, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Culture of India, Mr Pravin Srivastava, Director General, National Museum of India, and Dr Gautam Sengupta, Director General of Archeological Survey of India.
The exposition of the Kapilavastu sacred relics in Sri Lanka which will be held from 19 August to 4 September 2012 in seven venues, is the result of a personal request of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. During the landmark State Visit of President Rajapaksa to India in June 2010, it was decided that the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment of Prince Siddharatha as Gautama Buddha (Sambuddhatva Jayanthi) will be commemorated by India and Sri Lanka through joint activities. Following this agreement, President Rajapaksa requested the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to afford Sri Lankan Buddhists an opportunity to pay homage to the sacred Kapilavastu Relics by allowing the Relics to be taken to Sri Lanka as a part of the commemoration of the 2600th year of the Sambuddhatva Jayanthi.
Prior to the departure of the sacred relics, High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam and the staff at the Sri Lanka High Commission in India organized a religious ceremony at the Palam Special Airport in New Delhi. Sri Lankan Maha Sangha (Buddhist Priests) resident in various Buddhist sites in India who were present on the occasion conducted religious ceremony and invoked blessings on the delegation and for the success of their mission as well as for stronger India-Sri Lanka ties. Ven Dr Kahawatte Siri Sumedha Thero, President Indo-Jambudeepa International Buddhist Association, Varanasi, Ven Egodabedde Uparatana Thero of the Mahabodhi Society of India (MBSI), Kolkata, Ven Baddegama Nanda Thero of MBSI, Bodhgaya, Ven Hakurugammana Saddhatissa Thero of the MBSI, Varanasi, Ven Ratmalane Pagnajeewa Thero of the Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka, Sanchi, Ven Pallegama Vijitha Thero of the Sri Lanka Buddhist Pilgrims Rest, New Delhi, Ven Bibile Sumanasiri Thero and Ven Rambukwelle Sugathawansa Thero of the MBSI, New Delhi were in attendance on behalf of Sri Lankan monks resident in India.
At the conclusion of the religious ceremony, High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam ceremoniously carried the sacred relics from the VIP Room of the Palam Special Airport, where the religious ceremony was held, to the Special Aircraft.
The first exposition of the sacred Relics of Kapilavastu outside India was in Sri Lanka in 1978. Subsequent expositions of the Relics took place in Mongolia in August 1993, in Singapore in July 1994, in South Korea in 1995 and in Thailand in 1996. Subsequently, taking into consideration the inestimable value and delicate nature of the Relics, the authorities in India entrusted with the care of the Relics decided that the sacred Kapilavastu Relics will henceforth remain as a venerable object at the National Museum of India in New Delhi and will not be taken outside India for public veneration.
However, the request made by President Rajapaksa in the 2600th year of the Sambuddhatva Jayanthi received special consideration at the highest level of the Government of India. Making an exception, the Government of India decided to lend the sacred Relics to Sri Lanka for public veneration, once again. The sacred Relics are thus being brought to Sri Lanka after three decades since their first exposition in 1978.
High Commission of Sri Lanka
19 August 2012