Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kushinagar International Airport at the Parinirvana site of Lord Buddha in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. The move aims to promote tourism on the Buddhist circuit based on three markers for economic development – trade, tourism and technology. Ambassadors from at least 10-15 countries where Buddhism is practiced and propagated are expected to attend the inauguration ceremony today. Over 100 Sri Lankan priests and eight high priests, led by Namal, the son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, will also be present.
The Kushinagar airport has been constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 260 crore; It will serve the adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and is seen as an important step to boost investment and employment opportunities in the region. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the airport will facilitate domestic and international pilgrims to visit the ‘Mahaparinirvana’ site of Lord Buddha and is an effort to connect Buddhist pilgrimage sites across the world.
The PMO said Modi will visit the Mahaparinirvana temple in Kushinagar to attend a public function and to participate in a program organized on the occasion of Abhidhamma Divas ahead of the inauguration of the airport. At the temple, the Prime Minister will pay homage to a reclining statue of Lord Buddha and will also plant a Bodhi tree. Later, Prime Minister Modi will lay the foundation stone for several other developmental projects, including the Government Medical College to be built at a cost of over Rs 280 crore, and 12 other developmental projects worth over Rs 180 crore.
The city of Kushinagar is being connected to other Buddhist sites by dedicated trains for Indians and foreigners interested in pilgrimage or religious tourism. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh will be present at the event and is expected to address a rally in the region later along with the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, a flight carrying a Sri Lankan delegation of over 100 Buddhist monks and dignitaries – including a 12-member Holy Relics bringing relics of the Holy Buddha for exhibition – to mark the successful operation of the runway Will land at Kushinagar airport soon after inauguration. . The delegation includes the Anunayakas (Deputy Heads) of all the four Nikats (Orders) of Buddhism in Sri Lanka; Asgiriya, Amarapura, Ramanya, Malvatta as well as five ministers of the Lanka government led by cabinet minister Namal Rajapaksa.
Other eminent Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan and Cambodia along with ambassadors from various countries will also participate in the event.