Buddha’s relics set for Lanka will return today after 141 years in India

As part of the 123-member Sri Lankan delegation at the inauguration Flight between Colombo and Kushinagar, UP, had a 12-member Holy Relics team on 20 October. The only documented authentic relic of the Buddha in Sri Lanka, the sacred Piprahwa relic is housed at the Vaskaduwa Vihara in Kalutara, Sri Lanka.

The team was led by the Mahanayak of Vaskaduva Temple. The relics (bone fragments, ashes, pieces of Buddha’s jewellery) were in India for six days, and would return to Sri Lanka on Tuesday. An official of the Ministry of Culture said that during his stay in India, the remains have been given the status of a state guest.

This marked the return of the relics to India after 141 years, when they were given to Sri Lanka as a token of friendship and gratitude. In 1898, ASI archaeologists excavated a large mound at the property of British landowner William Claxton Peppe at Piprahwa in present-day Siddharthnagar district of UP. This site is 160 km from Kushinagar, the final resting place of Buddha, where he attained Mahaparinirvana after his death.

Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy said, “I am grateful to the head monk of the Vaskaduwa Relic Temple in Sri Lanka for bringing the relics to India.”