New Delhi: Prime Minister of India, H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi paid an official visit to Lumbini, Nepal on May 16, 2022, coinciding with the auspicious occasion of Buddha Purnima, at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Nepal Rt Hon’ble Sher Bahadur Deuba. As Prime Minister, this was Mr. Narendra Modi’s fifth visit to Nepal and first to Lumbini.
Prime Minister was warmly welcomed on arrival by Prime Minister Deuba, his spouse Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba, Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Bal Krishna Khand, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Narayan Khadka, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transportation Ms. Renu Kumari Yadav, Minister for Energy, Water Resources & Irrigation Ms. Pampha Bhusal, Minister for Culture, Civil Aviation and Tourism Mr. Prem Bahadur Ale, Minister for Education Mr. Devendra Paudel, Minister for Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs Mr. Govinda Prasad Sharma, and Chief Minister of Lumbini Province Mr. Kul Prasad KC.
Upon arrival, both Prime Ministers visited the Mayadevi temple, within which lies the birth place of Lord Buddha. At the temple, the Prime Ministers attended prayers conducted as per Buddhist rituals and made offerings. The Prime Ministers lit lamps and visited the historical Ashoka Pillar, that carries the first epigraphic evidence of Lumbini being the birthplace of Lord Buddha. They also watered the holy Bodhi tree that was brought as a gift by Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Nepal in 2014.
Prime Minister Modi together with Prime Minister Deuba participated in the “Shilanyas” ceremony for the construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage at a plot in Lumbini belonging to the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) based in New Delhi. The plot was allocated to the IBC by the Lumbini Development Trust in November 2021. After the “Shilanyas” ceremony, the Prime Ministers also unveiled a model of the Buddhist centre, which is envisaged as a Net-Zero compliant world-class facility that would house prayer halls, meditation centre, library, exhibition hall, cafeteria and other amenities and would be open to Buddhist pilgrims and tourists from around the world.
Both Prime Ministers held a bilateral meeting, during which they followed up on their discussions held on April 2 in New Delhi. They discussed specific initiatives and ideas to further strengthen cooperation in various sectors, including culture, economy, trade, connectivity, energy and development partnership. The two sides agreed in principle to establish sister city relations between Lumbini and Kushinagar, that are among the holiest sites of Buddhism and reflects the shared Buddhist heritage between the two countries.
The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the progress made in bilateral power sector cooperation in recent months, that covers development of generation projects, power transmission infrastructure and power trade. Prime Minister Deuba invited Indian companies to undertake the development of West Seti hydropower project in Nepal. PM Modi assured India’s support in the development of Nepal’s hydropower sector and in encouraging interested Indian developers to expeditiously explore new projects in this regard. Both Prime Ministers agreed to further expand educational and cultural exchanges to bring the people of the two countries closer. A Luncheon was hosted in honour of Prime Minister Modi by Prime Minister Deuba.
Both Prime Ministers participated in a special event to mark the 2566th Buddha Jayanti celebrations that was organized by Lumbini Development Trust under the aegis of the Government of Nepal. At the event, PM Modi addressed a large gathering of monks, officials, dignitaries and those associated with the Buddhist world.
The visit of Prime Minister to Lumbini, Nepal follows the successful visit of Prime Minister Deuba to Delhi and Varanasi from 1-3 April 2022. This visit has provided further momentum to the multifaceted partnership between the two countries and advanced cooperation in key areas, particularly in education, culture, energy and people to people exchanges. Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Lumbini also emphasizes the deep and rich civilizational connect between India and Nepal and the contribution of people on both sides to foster and promote it.