Marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Indo-Lanka diplomatic relations, which falls this year, two photographs of Sri Lankan origin were unveiled at the office of the State Minister of External Affairs and Culture of India at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi on April 22.
The photographs, which were installed at the office of the State Minister of External Affairs and Culture Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi, feature two murals painted by the eminent Sri Lankan painter Solias Mendis in the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara.
The first mural depicts Arahat Mahinda, delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa upon arriving in Sri Lanka. The second mural depicts the arrival to Sri Lanka of Theri Sanghamitta, bearing the right-hand branch sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree.
These two historical events that occurred in the 3rd century BCE marked the commencement of a Buddhist civilization in Sri Lanka and epitomize the strong and unbreakable civilizational bonds that exist between Sri Lanka and India.
The photographs were ceremonially unveiled by State Minister Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi and Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda in the presence of the Venerable members of the Maha Sangha from Sri Lanka led by the Most Venerable Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Maha Nayaka Thero who were in New Delhi to attend the Global Buddhist Summit.
Director General of the Department of Archaeology of Sri Lanka Prof. Anura Manatunga, Director General of the International Buddhist Confederation Abhijit Halder and senior officials of the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi were also present on this occasion. Prof. Manatunga gave a brief description of the temple murals depicted in the photographs at the unveiling ceremony.
Previously, in October 2021, the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi presented two photographs depicting the same murals, to be installed at the newly inaugurated international airport in Kushinagar. Similar photographs were installed at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Headquarters in Nagpur in February 2022, and at the Ahmedabad International Airport in July 2022. As part of an ongoing programme to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Indo-Lanka diplomatic relations, action has also been initiated to install similar photographs at other locations in India, including at the international airports in Buddha Gaya and Varanasi shortly, enhancing Sri Lanka’s cultural footprint at the level of the States of the Union of India.