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Minister Vidura Leads Delegation to Pakistan for International Symposium on Gandharan Buddhism

June 05, Colombo (LNW): At the invitation of the Government of Pakistan, Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayaka led a delegation to Pakistan on May 27 to participate in the International Symposium and Exhibition titled ‘From Gandhara to the World: The Legacy of Gandharan Buddhism,’ held in connection with Vesak Day 2024.

Minister Wickramanayaka was accompanied by Member of Parliament S.M.M. Muszhaaraff; Ven. Halmillawewe Pemarathana Thera from the International Samanera Bhikkhu Training Institute, Dambulla; Ven. Prof. Thumbulle Seelakkhandha Thera, a member of the Sangha Council in Asgiri Maha Viharaya and former Vice-Chancellor of Pali and Buddhist University and Anuradhapura Bhikku University; Ven. Mugunuwela Anurudha Thera, General Secretary of the All Island Buddhist Council; and Ven. Prof. Tempitiye Indawimala, a lecturer at the University of Peradeniya.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Islamabad Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne also participated in the symposium and exhibition. The two-day event on Gandhara was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad from May 28 to 29. Religious leaders, experts, scholars, diplomats, historians, and art enthusiasts from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam attended, providing a platform for exchanging ideas and fostering connections.

Minister Wickramanayaka, as the chief guest, delivered the keynote speech, praising Pakistan’s role in enhancing cultural relations and achieving international recognition for Vesak Day. He emphasized the profound contribution of Buddhism to the culture, art, and civilization of South Asia and beyond. Highlighting the need for harnessing Buddhist values and promoting cultural diplomacy to unite people and nations, he stated, “Let us make Gandhara a bridge to serve this purpose. We must make Gandhara a living legacy.”

Addressing contemporary challenges in preserving and promoting Gandharan heritage, the Minister outlined strategies for fostering greater awareness, conservation, and research through international cooperation and collaboration to safeguard this invaluable cultural treasure.

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