Kathmandu [Nepal], May 16 (ANI): Hailing the laying of foundation stone of India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in Lumbini, an official of Lumbini Development Trust has said that it became possible due to PM Modi's "personal interest and love for Buddhism" and noted that several countries including Thailand, Myanmar and Canada have already built monasteries in the sacred town.
Dr Hari Dhoz, Information and Public Relations chief of Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), told ANI that the foundation stone for the India Culture Centre at the birthplace of Lord Buddha has been laid within two months of the lease and that the construction will be completed in three years.
"It is a good initiative that Government of India has taken right now. Many countries including Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Canada and others have already built monasteries in Lumbini," Dr Dhoz told ANI.
"We've been requesting Government of India and Indian Embassy in Nepal for a long time (for Buddhist Cultural Centre) but they didn't pay attention to this. Due to PM's personal interest and love for Buddhism, Indian government is also ready to get the land. The land was allocated to India exactly two months ago. The construction will be completed within three years," he added.
PM Modi and his Nepal counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba, performed the 'shilanyaas' ceremony for construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in the Lumbini Monastic Zone. .
The Centre will be constructed by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), New Delhi, on a plot under an agreement between IBC and LDT signed in March 2022.
Elaborating on Lumbini masterplan for developing the town, Dr Dhoz said it extends to three square miles.
"It has been divided into three parts, into new Lumbini village to the north one square mile, in the middle is monastery zone one square mile and one square mile to the southernmost part is the sacred garden. Mayadevi temple is located there," he said.
Despite India being one of the main centres of Buddhism in the world, it had no centre or project in Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha.
Countries like Thailand, Canada, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Singapore, France, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, Austria, China, South Korea and the United States are all represented by Centres of projects in the Monastic Zone. Under the Lumbini Master Plan of the Government of Nepal, approved in 1978, the Lumbini Monastic Zone came into being as a place housing Buddhist monasteries and projects from various denominations and countries.
For the last three decades, while countries sought and received parcels of land within the Zone, India remained out. Time was also running out as only two plots of land remained vacant as per the original master plan.
Under PM Modi's government, the issue was raised at the highest level in Nepal. As a result of constant follow-up and positive efforts from both governments, in November 2021, the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) allocated a plot (80 meters by 80 meters) to the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) to build a project. This was followed up with a detailed agreement between IBC and LDT in March 2022, following which the land is formally leased to IBC.
"This occasion has come because of PM Modi's initiative and support from the Government of India. I'm also thankful to the government of Nepal and Lumbini Development Trust for providing us the opportunity of having our center here," Dr Dhammapiya, Secretary-General, International Buddhist Confederation said.
The Centre, once built, will be a unique design with seven external layers which symbolize the seven steps taken by Buddha soon after his birth. On the structural side, it will house prayer rooms, meditation halls, a library, auditorium, meeting rooms, a cafeteria, and accommodation for visiting monks. The Centre will be technologically advanced and net-zero compliant in terms of energy and waste management and will showcase both India's Buddhist heritage and technological prowess.
After the shilanyaas ceremony, which was performed by monks belonging to three major Buddhist traditions, Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, the two Prime Ministers also unveiled a model of the Centre. (ANI)