Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Sri Lanka, beginning Thursday, is “a sign of strong relationship” between the two SAARC nations, he said earlier this morning. Prime Minister Modi’s second bilateral visit in two years comes a day before International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo where he will be the chief guest.
Vesak is the most sacred day for Buddhists as it is marks the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha. Sri Lanka, which had played an important role in getting official recognition for the day from UN, is celebrating it for the first time. India had supported Sri Lanka’s initiative at the UN, reported ANI.
“I will interact with leading Buddhist spiritual leaders, scholars and theologians. It is my honour to join these celebrations with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe,” Modi wrote in a Facebook post. The visit is also touted to be an apolitical one. No bilateral agreements will reportedly be signed during the visit.
Apart from meeting Sirisena, Wickremesinghe and other dignitaries, Modi will take part in the traditional lamp lighting ceremony in Colombo during his visit to the Seema Malaka at the Gangaramayya temple.
The prime minister will also be visiting a Buddhist temple to pay his respects at the revered temple of Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, which is also a world heritage site. The temple is also known as Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic since it has a relic of the tooth of Gautam Buddha.
Along with visiting the tea plantation regions of Sri Lanka, PM Modi will also inaugurate the 150-bed multi-specialty Dickoya Hospital which has been built with Indian assistance. The hospital will also receive an aid worth $2.6 billion from the Indian government.
PM Modi will also lay the foundation stone for the Faculty of Kandyan Dance at the Sri Lankan International Buddhist Academy. It will be constructed with India’s grant assistance.