A delegation led by Rijiju will transport Buddhist relics to Mongolia
In a gesture of cultural diplomacy with Mongolia, India is sending a 25-person delegation led by Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju, with sacred Buddhist relics. The delegation will travel to neighboring China on June 12 ahead of Mongolia’s Buddha Purnima on June 14.
The delegation will be in Mongolia for an 11-day exhibition, and the four relics will be displayed at the Batsagaan Temple of Gandan Monastery located in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
The relics are currently kept in the National Museum and were first discovered in 1898 in the ancient city of Kapilavastu in Bihar. Rijiju said the relics, known as the “Relics of Kapilvastu”, have never been moved since.
“The relics had been given ‘AA status’ and were not moved out of the National Museum. But, at the special request of the Mongolian government, we decided to send them to the exhibition,” Rijiju said. Initially, they were to be displayed for a week, but at the request of the Mongolian government, the display time was extended to 11 days.
A statement from the Ministry of Culture said the last time the relics were taken out of the country was in 2012 when they were taken to Sri Lanka and displayed at several locations across the island nation. “However, subsequent guidelines were issued and the holy relics were placed in the ‘AA’ category of antiquities and art treasures which should not normally be taken out of the country for display, given their delicate nature” , the statement said.
Rijiju added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mongolia in 2015 was the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Mongolia, and bringing the relics to Mongolia will help rekindle diplomatic relations with Mongolia. he called a cultural neighbor. During his visit in 2015, Modi visited Gandan Monastery and also presented a young Bodhi tree to Hamba Lama.
An advance team from the Center has been sent to Mongolia to examine the arrangements there, and the relics will be transported in the same climate-controlled case that is currently housed in the National Museum. They will also be granted state guest status and the Indian Air Force has sent the C-17 Globe Master to transport them, the culture ministry said. “Two bulletproof envelopes along with two ceremonial coffins are being carried by the Indian delegation for the two relics,” the ministry said.
The relics will be received in Mongolia by their Minister of Culture; adviser to the President of Mongolia and a large number of monks among other dignitaries.
Besides the exhibition, to strengthen diplomatic relations, the government has pursued cultural activities in Mongolia, in the face of geopolitical rivalry with China. The Ministry of Culture said India has printed 75 copies of 108 volumes of Mongolian Kanjur for the Mongolian government and is now digitizing the Kanjur manuscripts. Besides that, 500 Mongolian monks are studying in different monasteries and institutions here, and India has facilitated their travel and visas.