Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sri Lanka a short while ago to attend the International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo.
He was greeted at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, several cabinet ministers and state officials.
The trip will commence in Colombo with a visit to the Seema Malaka at the Gangaramayya temple where he will take part in the traditional lamp-lighting ceremony.
Modi said his visit to Sri Lanka beginning from Thursday is a sign of “strong relationship” between the two countries and brings to the fore the shared heritage of Buddhism.
During his two-day visit, he will participate in the International Vesak Day celebrations, the biggest festival of Buddhists, inaugurate a hospital built with Indian assistance and address the Indian-origin Tamil community, besides attending some other programmes.
“This will be my second bilateral visit there in two years, a sign of our strong relationship,” he said in a Facebook post, hours before travelling to Sri Lanka. “During my visit, I will join the International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo on 12th May, where I will interact with leading Buddhist spiritual leaders, scholars and theologians,” Modi wrote.
He said it was an honour for him to join these celebrations with president Maithripala Sirisena and prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. “My visit brings to the fore one of the most abiding links between India and Sri Lanka – the shared heritage of Buddhism,” he said.
The prime minister recalled that during his last visit in 2015, he had the opportunity to visit Anuradhapura, a UNESCO world heritage site and a leading centre of Buddhism for centuries. “This time, I will be privileged to pay respect at the revered Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, also known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic,” he said.
He said his trip will commence in Colombo with a visit to the Seema Malaka at the Gangaramayya temple where he will take part in the traditional lamp-lighting ceremony. He will be meeting with Sirisena, Wickremesinghe and other eminent dignitaries, he said.
“I will also visit the upcountry region of Sri Lanka where I will inaugurate the Dickoya Hospital that has been built with Indian assistance, and have an interaction with the Indian-origin Tamil community,” Modi said.