Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda, accompanied by a delegation of senior High Commission officials, paid a courtesy call on the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Shri Yogi Adityanath on Thursday (28) afternoon at the Chief Minister’s official residence in Lucknow. The Chief Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Government Shri Rajendra Kumar Tiwari and several other key State officials were present at the meeting.
The courtesy call on the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh by the High Commissioner came as part of the latter’s plan to expand Sri Lanka’s footprint at state level to promote greater interactions between Sri Lanka and the states of the Indian Union as stipulated in his policy road map the “Integrated Country Strategy for Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in India”.
The Chief Minister extended a warm welcome to High Commissioner Moragoda and the delegation. During the very cordial discussion that followed, the two dignitaries reviewed the ancient and strong cultural and religious affinities between Uttar Pradesh and Sri Lanka and discussed the ways to further strengthen them. The Chief Minister stated that they were very happy and honoured to have a high-profile delegation from Sri Lanka in the inaugural flight to the new international airport in Kushinagar. The High Commissioner thanked the Chief Minister for the excellent arrangements that were in place for the delegation from Sri Lanka and for the hospitality extended to them.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath observed that six important places associated with the life of the Buddha are located in his state, while the High Commissioner brought to his attention that, similarly, there are a number of sites in Sri Lanka, which are connected to the Ramayana and Lord Rama. The two dignitaries agreed that there is tremendous potential for Uttar Pradesh and Sri Lanka to cooperate in the cultural and tourism sector, and High Commissioner Moragoda proposed a concrete mechanism for collaboration in this regard. The Chief Minister was in agreement with such a mechanism and instructed his senior officials to work closely with the High Commission to realize this objective.
High Commissioner Moragoda invited Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to visit Sri Lanka, which the latter accepted with pleasure.
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India with a population of 24 crores.
Earlier in the day, High Commissioner Moragoda and the delegation visited Ayodhya to ceremonially offer a scared stone or Shila from the Sita Amman Temple premises in Sita Eliya towards the construction of the Ram Mandir Temple in Ayodhya, which could be termed as a historical step in the people-to-people contacts between Sri Lanka and India.
Ram Mandir Temple is being constructed in Ayodhya, at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi or the hypothesized birthplace of Lord Rama, a principal deity of Hinduism.
The scared stone, handed over to the High Commissioner by the Board of Trustees of the Sita Amman Temple and brought to India, was ceremonially offered to the Ram Mandir in the presence of the Board of Temple Trustees led by its Secretary General Shri Champath Rai, senior Hindu priests and other state political dignitaries, amidst chanting of Hindu prayers. The sacred stone was accepted by the Chief Priest of the Ram Mandir, Swami Satyendradas from High Commissioner Milinda Moragoda.