Lankan President on a pilgrimage

LUMBINI: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today said he came to the birth place of Buddha -Lumbini- to spread the message of peace and harmony throughout the world.

Talking to the media persons briefly upon his arrival here, President Rajapaksa said,''Every individual of the world are now in search of peace."

"Let peace prevail on earth. This is the message I want to convey the world. That's why I have come to the birth place of Buddha - Lumbini,'' he remarked.

Answering a query, he told the journalists,''This is my personal and religious trip. It should not be taken as a political one.''

He said that his desire of visiting Lumbini since his childhood, got fulfilled today.

Meanwhile, he added that his visit would help strengthen the Nepal-Sri Lankan relations which he said would help promote economy, culture and tourism.

Rajapaksa had arrived in Lumbini at 11.15 am in a chopper of the Nepali Army.

He visited the Mayadevi Temple, Garbhashila and other places of interest.

On the occasion, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Dr. Minendra Rijal and Communication Officer of Lumbini Development Fund Gyanendra Rai briefed Rajapaksha on the pilot project for the development of the area.

President Rajapaksa also inaugurated the Mahabihar, constructed with the assistance of Sri Lankan government. Inaugurating the Mahabihar, Rajapaksa said,''Birthplace of Gautam Buddha is the centre of faith of all the Buddhist people of the world.''

President Rajapaksha, meanwhile, suggested the Nepali government to work on the reconstruction of historical and religious sites.

He also pledged US$10,000 for the reconstruction of the area and unveiled the Samarpan Stambha.

Deputy chairman of Lumbini Development Fund, Karma Shyangbo, said the proper development of the area has fallen through for want of more assistance from all the stakeholders.

Minister Rijal has gifted a statue of Buddha to the President Rajapaksha, on the occasion.