New Delhi, Jun 27 (PTI) The four holy relics of Lord Buddha came back to India after being displayed for 12 days at the Batsagaan Temple within the premises of Gandan Monastery, Mongolia as part of celebrations of Mongolian Buddh Purnima, the culture ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Union minister Arjun Meghwal received the holy relics at Ghaziabad.
The duration of display of the relics had to be extended by a few days on popular demand from Mongolian people, the statement said.
Mongolia’s president, speaker of its parliament, foreign, culture, tourism, and energy ministers, more than 20 MPs, and high abbots from over 100 monasteries were among the thousands who paid their respects to the revered relics during the exposition.
On the concluding day, Mongolia’s interior minister of culture was present for the rituals. On day 1 (June 14) of the exposition, about 18,000-20,000 devotees paid their obeisance to the relics, the ministry said.
“An average of 5,000-6,000 devotees visited Gandan Monastery on working days, while on closed days an average of 9,000-10,000 devotees paid their respects. On the last day about 18,000 devotees visited Gandan to pay their respects to the holy relics. On the concluding day the interior minister of culture was present for the rituals,” the statement said.
The relics are known as the ‘Kapilvastu Relics’ since they are from a site in Bihar first discovered in 1898 which is believed to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu.
They were accorded the status of a state guest. A special airplane C-17 Globe Master carried the them back to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Gandan Monastery in 2015 and also presented a Bodhi Tree sapling to Hamba Lama (chief abbott).
Pointing out the centuries old Buddhist ties between the two countries, Modi — the first Indian Prime Minister to vist Mongolia — had described the two countries as spiritual neighbours during his address to the Mongolian Parliament.
The last time these relics were taken out of the country was in 2012 when their exposition was held in Sri Lanka and were on display at several locations across the island nation.
However, later guidelines were issued and the relics were placed under the ‘AA’ category of those antiquities and art treasures which should not be ordinarily taken out of the country for exhibition, considering their delicate nature. PTI ASG RHL
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