Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, is all set to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
This is the fifth visit of Prime Minister Modi to Nepal after taking over the top post in 2014 and the first after his re-election in 2019.
To receive and welcome Modi in Lumbini, his Nepal counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba has already reached Bhairahawa, a city nearby Lumbini on Sunday evening. Deuba will inaugurate the second international airport in Bhairahawa on Monday and will accompany Modi in Lumbini throughout the day.
As per the itinerary obtained by IANS, the Indian Prime Minister will arrive at Lumbini from Kushinagar by an IAF helicopter at 10.40 a.m. Then he will go to Maya Devi Temple and attend a special prayer. He will also be lighting a lamp in front of the Ashokan Pillar, and water the Bodhi tree, gifted by him, during his 2014 visit.
Later, he will perform Bhoomi Poojan and lay the foundation stone of India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage, being built at the initiative of the International Buddhist Confederation, New Delhi.
“I look forward to offering prayers at the Mayadevi Temple on the auspicious occasion of Buddha Jayanti,” Modi said in his pre-departure statement issued on Sunday. “I am honoured to follow in the footsteps of millions of Indians to pay reverence at the sacred site of Lord Buddha’s birth.”
“I also look forward to meeting Prime Minister Deuba again after our productive discussions during his visit to India last month. We will continue to build on our shared understanding to expand cooperation in multiple areas, including in hydropower, development, and connectivity,” he said.
A meeting between the two PMs is also scheduled to undertake a comprehensive review of recent agreements.
Some MoUs on cooperation in cultural and educational sectors are expected to be exchanged between the two countries after the bilateral meeting, according to the officials.
Deuba will host a lunch in the honour of the visiting India leader and his delegation.
Modi will also attend the 2566th Buddha Jayanti Celebration and address a large gathering of people from Nepal and India, including Buddhist scholars and monks.
The visit is aimed at promoting further the close, comprehensive and multi-dimensional bilateral ties founded on the age-old connection of history, culture, tradition and religion. According to a media briefing, the visit is expected to strengthen people-to-people connect and promote bilateral tourism.
In 2014, Modi visited Nepal twice – in August for a bilateral visit and in November for the SAARC Summit.
He also paid a state visit to Nepal from May 11-12, 2018 and a two day visit for BIMSTEC summit in 2018 on August 30-31 the same year.
In his previous visits to Nepal as Prime Minister, he has visited places of religious significance that binds together people of India and Nepal like Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Janaki Mata Temple in Janakpur Dham, and Muktinath Temple in Mustang.
Our ties with Nepal are unparalleled, said Modi, adding the civilisational and people-to-people contacts between India and Nepal form the enduring edifice of our close relationship.
“My visit is intended to celebrate and further deepen these time-honoured linkages that have been fostered through centuries and recorded in our long history of inter-mingling,” he said in his pre-departure statement.