Lankan Buddhist delegation leaves for Pakistan to attend 2nd Vesak Festival

Lankan Buddhist delegation leaves for Pakistan to attend 2nd Vesak Festival

The ruins of a Gandhara Buddhist monastery

A thirty four member delegation led by Lankan Buddhist monks and scholars left for Pakistan Sunday on the invitation of the Pakistani government, to attend the second Vesak festival held in Taxila, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Lord Buddha. The festival is to be held from May 21 to 24, the Embassy of Pakistan in Colombo said.

The Most Venerable Kanumuldeniye Chandavimala Mahanayaka Thero headed the delegation which was also accompanied by government officials and pilgrims, the embassy said in a statement. Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan Dr. Sarfraz Ahmed Khan Sipra and other officials of the High Commission of Pakistan had accompanied the delegation to the Bandaranayake International Airport.

“Despite being a predominantly Muslim country, Pakistan is celebrating the Vesak Festival and many countries are being invited for the Festival. On the sidelines of the Vesak Festival, the delegation will be visiting different sites of Buddhist spiritual and religious significance in Taxila such as the Dharmarajika Stupa, Sirkap and Taxila Museum,” the statement by the Pakistan Embassy said.

Pakistan has been the cradle of Buddhist and Gandhara Civilization for well over 22 centuries leaving behind a monumental and rich legacy of art and architecture in the country. Despite the vagaries of centuries, the Gandhara region had preserved a lot of the heritage in craft and art. The Gandhara civilization flourished in the north-western region of Pakistan from the 6th Century BC to the 5th Century AD. The territory of Gandhara civilization and its heritage is a triangular piece of land about 100 kilometers, east to west and 70 kilometers north to south, on the west side of the Indus river, surrounded by mountains in the present day Pakistan.

The Gandhara School of Art is credited as being the first creators of Lord Buddha in human form carved in stone, stucco, terracotta and bronze. These were mostly enshrined in monasteries and stupas throughout the Gandhara region. A major portion of this invaluable heritage has been preserved in the museums and the sacred sites at their original locations.

The visit of the Buddhist delegation to Taxila arranged by Pakistan comes in the wake of it organizing a large scale exposition of Buddhist relics from Taxila at the Vesak celebrations in Sri Lanka in 2016 and facilitating the visit of a Buddhist contingent to Taxila.