June 27, Colombo: The most sacred Relics of Lord Buddha from Taxila Pakistan were taken back to Pakistan after conclusion of a month long exposition at various locations around the island nation.
The most sacred relics were handed over by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickramasinghe to the High Commissioner of Pakistan Maj. Gen. (R) Syed Shakeel Hussain, at an impressive ceremony held at Temple Trees Sunday. Senior Buddhist clergy, Ministers, Government officials, as well as officers of Pakistan High Commission in Colombo were present on the occasion.
During the month long exposition in Sri Lanka, over 9.3 million devotees paid their respects and homage to the holy bone relics from Taxila Pakistan. In addition prominent personalities including the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker, Ministers, Parliamentarians, Secretaries of Ministries, Commanders of the Armed forces, Inspector General Police and other paid homage to the sacred relics from Pakistan.
While speaking on the occasion, the High Commissioner Shakeel Hussain said that Pakistan prides itself to be the motherland of Buddhism and Gandhara. The relationship between the two peoples exists from times immemorial taking a firm shape through two thousand five hundred years old linkages established during the golden era of Gandhara civilization.
He said that the deep mutual love between the two peoples transcending all material bases is the essential ingredient of inherent strength of this special relationship that is further cemented by the commonality of eternal values of universal peace and love espoused both by Buddhism and Islam.
Prime Minister Wickramasinghe, thanked the Government of Pakistan for provision of Lord Buddha's most sacred relics from Pakistan's Taxila region. He further said that the importance of collaboration between the two friendly countries has increased tremendously in modern times for promoting cultural, civilizational and trade dialogue among the nations of the world. The exhibition of the sacred relics in Sri Lanka has further strengthened the already existing deep rooted cultural relations between the two friendly nations, he added.
The sacred bone relics of Lord Buddha were sent by the Government of Pakistan on the special request of the Prime Minister Wickramasinghe, during the visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif to Sri Lanka in January 2016.
The exposition of the sacred relics was declared opened on 21st May 2016 by the President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, in the presence of a large number of senior monks, religious scholars, speaker of Parliament, senior government ministers and high level government officials.
During one month long stay in the Island, the holy relics remained in Colombo for public exposition from 21st to 24th May 2016. Subsequently, expositions were held in Gampaha (25-26 May), Kurunegala (27-28 May), Kalutara (29 May-1st June), Ratnapura (2-3 June), Galle (04-05 June), Matara (06-07 June), Hambantota (08-09 June), Moneragala (10-11 June), Badulla (12-13 June), Ampara (14-15 June), Polonnaruwa (16-17 June), Anuradhapura (18-19 June) and Kandy (20-21 June). Afterwards, the relics were brought back to Colombo again on 22nd June 2016. During the exposition in different cities, hundreds of thousands of devotees visited the most holy relics every day and performed their religious rituals.
The sacred relics included the bone relics of Lord Buddha, a golden casket containing the relics and a stone reliquary in stupa shape.
The relic caskets of steatite with a miniature gold casket containing holy bone relics, were found near the Dharmarajika stupa, which is the earliest and the largest Buddhist religious complex at Taxila. The Dharmarajika was established by the Maurya emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE around the relics of Buddha.
Later in the day, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs Hon. S.B. Navinna left for Islamabad along with the holy Relics to formally convey the gratitude of the Government and people of Sri Lanka to the Government and people of Pakistan for arranging the exposition in Sri Lanka.