LAHORE - In order to be part of the most important annual Vesak Buddhist Festival falling on May 21 2016, the govt of Pakistan is providing the most sacred bone relics of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka for exposition throughout Sri Lanka.

The sacred relics will be handed over by the Pakistani authorities to the Sri Lankan side in a special ceremony to be held at Taxila on Thursday (today) according to a news release issued by Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

The Sri Lankan Minister for Sustainable Development and Wildlife Hon. Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Secretary Ministry of Buddhasasana Wasantha Ekanayaka, Venerable Thiniyawala Palitha Thero, Chief Incumbent Nalandramaya, Nugegoda  alongwith other high level officials left for Pakistan on Wednesday to bring the sacred relics.

The exposition is being organised on the request of the Sri Lankan govt under the bilateral cooperation agreement in the field of Culture.

The relics will be arriving in Sri Lanka for an extended period on the auspicious day of Vesak on May 21st 2016 and will be exhibited until Full Moon Poson Poya Day.

The exhibition in Sri Lanka will be displaying the collection of the Taxila Museum of Pakistan and will comprise of 4 sacred artifacts / relics. These exhibits include two sacred bone relics of Lord Buddha, stone reliquary in stupa shape and a golden Casket. The relics are invaluable part of the archeological heritage of Pakistan and depicts the rich Buddhist history of Pakistan.

According to historians Pakistan is considered as the Makkah for Buddhist world.

The request for exposition of the relics was made by the leadership of Sri Lanka to the Prime Minister of Pakistan during the latter’s official visit to Sri Lanka in January 2016.

The request was reiterated during the visit of a 40 member high-powered delegation of senior most Sri Lankan Buddhist monks and eminent scholars headed by the Speaker of Sri Lankan Parliament, Karu Jayasuriya and Minister of Justice, Labour Relations and Budha Sasna Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapakshe. The delegation visited Pakistan for a week in April 2016.

Buddhism left a monumental and rich legacy of art and architecture in Pakistan. Despite the vagaries of centuries, the Gandhara region preserved a lot of the heritage in craft and art. Much of this legacy is visible even today in Pakistan.

The Gandhara civilisation was not only the center of spiritual influence but also the cradle of the world famous Gandhara culture, art and learning. It was from these centers that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Today the Gandhara sculptures occupy a prominent place in the museums of England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, Korea, China, India and Afghanistan, together with many private collections world over, as well as a vast collection in the museums of Pakistan. Numerous holy sites are spread all over the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The exhibition will further strengthen the already existing deep rooted cultural relations between the two friendly nations.