Sri Lanka and Uttar Pradesh of India resolved to further strengthen the cooperation in the fields of tourism, culture, religion and people-to-people contacts when the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda met with the Chief Minister of the State Shri Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow.
This was the second meeting that High Commissioner Moragoda had with the Chief Minister of the most populous State in India since the former took office in New Delhi in 2021.
The Chief Minister extended a warm welcome to High Commissioner Moragoda and his delegation. The discussion that followed centred around the ancient and strong cultural and religious affinities between Uttar Pradesh and Sri Lanka and the ways to further strengthening them through tourism as well as religious and cultural exchanges. Following from the discussions between the High Commissioner and the Chief Minister in October 2021 when they last met, the importance of promoting the Ramayana Trail in Sri Lanka and the Buddhist Trail in Uttar Pradesh through a formal framework was discussed.
Symbolizing the close relations between Buddhism and Hinduism as well as Uttar Pradesh and Sri Lanka, High Commissioner Moragoda proposed to plant a Bo sapling from Rumassala in Ayodhya, which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. Rumassala is a prominent Ramayana site in Sri Lanka.
On this occasion, two large photographs of Sri Lankan origin were presented to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to be installed at the Varanasi International Airport, marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Indo-Lanka diplomatic relations, which falls this year. The photographs feature two murals painted by the eminent Sri Lankan painter Solias Mendis in the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara, depicting Arahat Mahinda, delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa upon arriving in Sri Lanka, and the arrival to Sri Lanka of Theri Sanghamitta, bearing the right-hand branch sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree.
Similar photographs have been installed at the Kushinagar International Airport, Ahmedabad International Airport, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Headquarters in Nagpur and office of the State Minister of External Affairs and Culture at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. As part of an ongoing programme to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Indo-Lanka diplomatic relations, action has been initiated to install similar photographs at Buddha Gaya International Airport as well.
High Commissioner Moragoda also presented to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a stone obtained from the stream flowing besides the Seetha Amman Temple in Seetha Eliya (Ashoka Vatika) in Sri Lanka, which is believed to be the site where Seetha was held captive according to the Ramayana. The Chief Minister thanked the High Commissioner for this religiously significant memento, and also recalled how the latter presented a large Shila from the same premises to the Ram Mandir construction project in Ayodhya in October 2021.
Bhikkhu-in-charge of the Sarnath Centre of the Mahabodhi Society of India in Varanasi Ven. R. Sumiththananda Thero, and senior officials of the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi were also present on this occasion.