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Gifting of a sapling of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi to Thailand

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Minister of Buddhasasana and Wayamba Development Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, designated as the Special Envoy of President Maithripala Sirisena, to gift a sapling of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi Tree to Thailand, called on Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on 18 February 2019 at the Government House in Bangkok. This sacred gifting is following an initiative of President Sirisena. The Minister having conveyed President Sirisena’s regrets on his inability to participate personally at the gifting ceremony of the sacred bo sapling, also outlined the advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka 2600 years ago.

Prime Minister Chan-o-cha while warmly recalling his last official visit to Sri Lanka acknowledged its outcome as fruitful, and expressed thanks to President Sirisena for the Buddha statue gifted to Wat Dhammaram during his official visit to Thailand, enabling the exposition of the Mahiyangana sacred relics which were worshiped by 500,000 Thai people on that occasion and the present gifting of the sacred bo sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi, which will be enshrined in Ayutthaya, and easily accessible to the Thai people. It may be recalled that when the foundation of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist monkhood eroded during the colonial period, it was the King of then Siam with the capital of the Kingdom being Ayutthaya, that re-established the higher ordination tradition by sending a delegation of monks from there.

Recalling the proposal emanating from the International Celebration of Vesak, to establish an International Buddhist Bank, Minister Jayawickrama Perera at the discussions, sought Thailand's assistance for this initiative, which was received positively for consideration. He outlined that the International Buddhist Bank is envisaged to help preserve Buddhism and support underdeveloped temples, proposals for which are expected to be presented at the celebrations this year in Vietnam.

Pointing out that ‘Theravada’ being pure Buddhism, practiced both in Sri Lanka and Thailand, the Minister emphasized the importance in preserving, securing and promoting the related teachings. He noted with concern the threats to Buddhism which have to be addressed and the need for the Timeless Philosophy to be propagated worldwide which would be better facilitated through training centers for monks.  In this regard, referring to the well-established monks’ centers in Thailand, the Minister proposed the addition of foreign languages in the curriculum and cooperation between the two countries for the exchange of expertise and monks for training.

Commenting on the progress on trade and economic sectors between the two countries, the Thai Prime Minister referred to the Joint Strategic Economic Partnership signed in July last year, further facilitating cooperation in these areas. He informed that his officials had been requested to increase cooperation with Sri Lanka, including in Buddhist activities.

Minister Jayawickrama Perera also met Suvaphan Tanyuvardhana, Minister attached to the Thai Prime Minister's office and discussed the Buddhist link between the two countries and its relevance to tourism promotion. In this context, he referred to Sri Lanka's launching of the Buddhist Tourism Trail in Bangkok, considering Thailand to be the most apt platform having shared the links of Theravada Buddhism over many centuries.

The Minister also used the opportunity to brief about the initiatives being taken with regard to the envisaged inscribing, at the UNESCO, of the ‘Tripitaka’ in the memory of the World Register,

Speaking at the dinner hosted by Minister Suvaphan, the Sri Lankan Minister observed that with many shared commonalities, cemented on the bedrock of Buddhism, Thailand and Sri Lanka have sustained friendly relations for centuries. He added that Thailand has continued to be a dependable friend of Sri Lanka, predating the establishment of formal diplomatic relations over 6 decades ago. He further noted that the already robust bilateral ties are on a trajectory of growth as demonstrated by many initiatives of economic cooperation being implemented. Minister Jayawickrama Perera took the opportunity to thank the government of Thailand for the unstinting cooperation extended to Sri Lanka at all times. He also expressed confidence that with this initiative of President Maithripala Sirisena to gift a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi, it will further strengthen the friendship between the two countries.

 

Sri Lanka Embassy

Bangkok

19th February 2019

 

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