Millions of Sri Lankan devotees pay homage to sacred Buddhist relics

APP, June 20, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Millions of Sri Lankan devotees paid homage to sacred relics of Lord Buddha from Pakistan during a 17-day exposition of the sacred relics in Sri Lanka. 

These sacred relics were sent by the Government of Pakistan on the special request of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, during the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Sri Lanka. In addition to the millions of devotees the President, the Prime Minister, Speaker of Sri Lankan Parliament, several Parliamentarians and other prominent personalities paid homage to the sacred relics of Lord Buddha during the exposition.

The sacred relics brought from Pakistan to Sri Lanka were taken back to Pakistan on Monday after the conclusion of the exposition of these sacred relics in Sri Lanka, according to a message received here from Colombo.

These relics included the sacred relics of the Lord Buddha, Kanishka Relic Casket from Shah-Ji-Ki-Deheri, stone reliquary in Stupa shape and a Golden Casket.

The exposition of the sacred relics was declared open by the President of Sri Lanka on June 4 at Maligakanda temple in Colombo where these sacred relics stayed for a period of four days from June 5 to 9, 2011 and over 300,000 people paid homage to these relics every day at the Maligakanda temple.

These relics were then taken to the Gangaramaya temple Hunupitiya where they stayed for public exposition for three days from June 10 to 12, during which over 350,000 devotees visited these relics every day.

On June 13, the sacred relics were taken to Tissamaharama temple in Hambantota to mark celebration of Poson Poya day on June 15. The sacred relics remained at Tissamaharama temple for a period of three days where they were visited by over a million devotees.

On June 17, the sacred relics were brought back to Colombo at Mahamewna Asapuwa Malabe from June 16 to 19, where they were kept in the inner chamber of the newly constructed stupa for sanctifying and conferring the blessing of the said sacred relics on the stupa and as a lasting testimony to this blessed event, this stupa was named as “Siri Gauthama Dharmarajika Stupa”.

There after the sacred relics were exhibited at Mahamewuna Asapuwa, Malabe until June 19.

The exhibition of the sacred relics in Sri Lanka has further strengthened the already existing deep rooted cultural relations between the two friendly nations as it has marked the 2600th Year of the attainment of Enlightenment of Lord Buddha. Buddhism left a monumental and rich legacy of art and architecture in Pakistan.

Despite the vagaries of centuries, the Gandhara region preserved a lot of the heritage in craft and art. Much of this legacy is visible even today in Pakistan.

The Gandhara civilization was not only the centre of spiritual influence but also the cradle of the world famous Gandhara culture, art and learning. It was from these centers that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world.

Today the Gandhara sculptures occupy a prominent place in the museums of England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, Korea, China, India and Afghanistan, together with many private collections world over, as well as a vast collection in the museums of Pakistan.