Kathmandu: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a day-long visit to Nepal, offered prayers at the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini to mark the occasion of Buddha Purnima.
He was accompanied to the temple by his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Upon arriving at the Unesco World Heritage Site, which is the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, Modi said in a tweet, “Landed in Nepal. Happy to be among the wonderful people of Nepal on the special occasion of Buddha Purnima. Looking forward to the programmes in Lumbini.”
In 1997, Lumbini was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is Modi’s fifth visit to Nepal after becoming Prime Minister in 2015, but the first since he was re-elected in 2019.
After his visit to the Maya Devi Temple, Modi will light a butter lamp in front of the Ashoka Pillar, and water the Bodhi Vriksha – the tree under which Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, according to his itinerary.
Later, he will perform a ‘Bhoomi Poojan’ and lay the foundation stone of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage, being built at the initiative of the International Buddhist Confederation, New Delhi.
A bilateral meeting between the two Prime Ministers is also scheduled which will 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 officials.
Deuba will host a lunch in the honour of Modi and his delegation.
Prime Minister 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.
In 2014, Modi visited Nepal twice, in August for a bilateral visit and in November for the SAARC Summit.
Modi also paid a state visit in May 2018 and for the BIMSTEC summit later that year in August.