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New Delhi : The Union Ministry of Culture and International Buddhist Confederation, in association with Government of Uttar Pradesh, is organising the Abhidhamma Day on  October 20, 2021, at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, on the occasion of Ashwin Poornima. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will grace the event in the presence of eminent monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia, and  Ambassadors of various countries.

The day marks the end of three month rainy retreat – Varshavaas or Vassa- for the Buddhist Monks and Nuns during which time they stay at one place in vihara and monastery and pray.  Governor of UP  Anandiben Patel; Chief Minister of UP Yogi Adityanath; Union Law and Justice  Minister Kiren Rijiju; Union Culture and Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy; Minister of Civil aviation Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, and MoSs from Ministry of Culture, Civil Aviation and Tourism will attend the programme.

A Sri Lankan delegation comprising 123 delegates including 12-member Holy Relic entourage led by current Mahanayaka of Waskaduwa Temple is attending the event with Holy Relics. The delegation also comprises Anunayakas (deputy heads) of all four Nikatas (orders) of Buddhism in Sri Lanka i.e Asgiriya, Amarapura, Ramanya, Malwatta as well as 5 ministers of Govt of Sri Lanka led by Cabinet Minister  Namal Rajapakshe

The highlight of the event is the Exposition of Holy Buddha Relic being brought from Waskaduwa Sri Subuddhi Rajvihara Temple, Sri Lanka, by the Mahanayaka of the temple. In 1898, Archaeologists from Archaeological Survey of India excavated a large mound in the estate of British landowner, William Claxton Peppe, at Piprahwa, Sidharthnagar District, UP. It is 160 km from Kushinagar. They found a big stone box and inside this stone box there were some caskets and on one casket these words were inscribed: ‘Iyangsaleelanidhane Budhasabhagawathesakiyanansukithibahathanansabhaginikathansasunadalatha’.

Most Venerable Sri Subhuthi Mahanayake Thero of Waskaduwa Temple, Sri Lanka, who was helping the Archaeological team and Peppe translated the text which means “this noble deed of depositing of Buddha’s relics were carried out by the brothers, the sisters, and the children of Sakyas”. Thus, these relics are accepted as real relics (Bone fragments, ashes, pieces of Jewels of the Buddha).

A part of the Buddha relics obtained from this stupa was sent to the King of Thailand and another part was sent to the King of Burma. W C Peppe handed another part of relics, as a token of gratitude, to the Most Venerable Sri Subhuthi Mahanayake Thero. A part of the same Relics embedded in three small lotuses, which are further encased in a crystal ball, kept in a casket measuring 30cm * 26.5 cm, fixed on a wooden stand , are being brought over to Kushinagar for public exposition. The Prime Minister will offer prayers to the Holy Relic and also visit the Mahaparinirvana temple to offer flowers and chivar to the reclining statue of Buddha, according to a PIB release.

The ancient city of Kushinagar, in the state of Uttar Pradesh is the final resting place of Gautama Buddha, where he attained Mahaparinirvana after his death. It is among the most important pilgrim spots for the Buddhists since the ancient times. The inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Kushinagar International Airport, on the same day, is an important landmark in connecting the Buddhist- pilgrimage- holy sites for Buddhists around the world.

The Prime Minister will also do the Chivar Dana to Monks from Sri Lanka and other countries attending the event. Chivar refers to a “monk’s robe”. The period after three month long Varshavas, observed as retreat by monks and nuns by staying in vihara during rainy season, is a time of giving, for the laity to express gratitude to Sangha. Lay Buddhists bring donations to temples, especially new robes for the monks and nuns. Also the gift of the atthaparikara (in Sri Lanka it is known as Atapirikara) – the Eight Requisites – is part of the offerings. However, Dana of Chivara can also be given on other occasions.

The Prime Minister has offered Chivar and Sangha Dana on several occasions both in India and abroad. The PM had offered it at Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka temple, Colombo in 2014, sacred Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya to senior monks from various countries in Oct 2015, and Vesak Buddha Poornima Diwas event in 2018 at New Delhi to senior monks and nuns from various countries.