New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Nepal’s Lumbini, which is Lord Budhha’s birthplace on May 16, the occasion of Buddha Purnima. The motive of the Prime Minister’s visit is to reinforce Buddhism’s links with the Himalayan state and promote India’s soft power, news agency ANI reported. The Prime Minister’s visit to the neighboring Himalayan nation is a result of his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba’s invitation to PM Modi.
The visit comes months after PM Modi inaugurated Kushinagar International Airport in eastern Uttar Pradesh to facilitate foreign tourists and Buddhist pilgrims to reach the important site of the Mahaparinirvana Temple, where Lord Buddha attained nirvana by leaving behind his earthly body, ANI reported.
The airport is a part of the government’s 2016 plan to create a ‘Buddhist Circuit’. As per a report by ANI, “This world-class infrastructure will attract overseas tourists to India, the birthplace of Buddhism and home to its holiest pilgrimage sites. The ambitious tourism circuit, however, can achieve regional objectives as well.”
According to a paper by the World Economic Forum (WEF), PM Modi has made Buddhism a part of his diplomatic visits. He often speaks of the shared Buddhist heritage and keeps a day reserved to visit Buddhist temples during his international trips, such as to Sri Lanka and China, among others.
PM Modi has often spoken on a number of occasions domestically, where he has hailed the importance of the Buddhist faith for the development of both India and the world, the WEF paper explained.