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Prayers, stupas & more: Modi's date with Sri Lankan history

March 14, 2015 12:47 IST

"Looking forward to a wonderful day," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweets before he leaves Colombo. G Sudhakar Nair/PTI reports from Anuradhapura

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers prays at the Maha Bodhi tree. Photograph: @PMOIndia/Twitter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday paid a visit to Sri Lanka's ancient capital Anuradhapura and offered prayers at the sacred Mahabodhi tree in a move aimed at projecting India's Buddhist links in the region.

Accompanied by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Modi, attired in a spotless white kurta-pyjama, spent about 30 minutes at the Mahabodhi tree temple in Lanka's north central holy town and perform rituals.

Legend has it that the southern branch of the holy Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya in India under which Buddha was said to have attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka in 288 BC by Princess Sanghamitta (Sanghamitra in Sanskrit), the daughter of Emperor Ashoka.

It was planted in Anuradhapura and is venerated to this day by the Buddhists from many countries of the world. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is a sacred fig tree and is the oldest living tree in documented history of the world. The rituals included placing a 'Siura' (an orange robe worn by monks) on the southern branch of the sacred tree and tying a 'Pandura' (a small piece of cloth in which a coin is wrapped) on the branch.


Modi and Sirisena also knelt down and bowed in reverence before the tree. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was also present at the rituals. The PM then offered alms to the head monk. Modi also visited Ruwanweliseya, a stupa built in 140 BC.

Modi took to microblogging website Twitter this morning on the second and final day of his two-day visit to Sri Lanka to say he was looking forward to a wonderful day. "Leaving for Anuradhapura. Will also travel to Talaimannar and Jaffna today. "Looking forward to a wonderful day," Modi tweeted before he left Colombo by an Indian Air Force chopper.

More Buddhist devotees than usual awaited his arrival at Anuradhapura town which was decorated with Buddhist flags.

Modi leaves Colombo for Anuradhapura. He will also visit Jaffna on Saturday. Photograph: @PMOIndia/Twitter 

Anuradhapura is an ancient city, located at a distance of 206 km from Colombo. The city is the capital of North-Central province. Anuradhapura was established in 4th century BC. It was the first capital of Sri Lanka and remained so until 8th century AD.

Anuradhapura is an archaeologist's delight and contains several monuments of historical importance. The city is considered very sacred by the Buddhists and is home to the largest dagobas in Sri Lanka.

A dagoba is a dome enshrining sacred relics or the bodily remains of the Buddha, or articles used by Him like the alms bowl and other objects of veneration.

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