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India sends Buddha relics to Mongolia as a goodwill gesture

New Delhi: In a special goodwill gesture to its "spiritual neighbour" Mongolia, India will send four holy relics of Lord Buddha to be displayed for 11 days at the Batsagaan temple in Gandan Monastery of Ulaanbataar.
The sacred 'Kapilvastu relics' will be flown to Mongolia in two special bulletproof caskets on board an Indian Air Force aircraft on Sunday, along with a 25-member Indian delegation led by Union law and justice minister Kiren Rijiju.
The relics, believed to contain Gautam Buddha's remains, are part of the collection on display at the National Museum and were the last part of a multi-city display in Sri Lanka in 2012. They were accorded the 'AA' category status by the Archaeological Survey of India on account of their rarity and delicate nature and it was also decided that they will not be sent out of the country.
However, an exception was made for Mongolia following a special request from the Mongolian government and considering India's long-standing diplomatic ties with its 'Third neighbour' in the East. Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first Indian premier to visit Mongolia in 2015. He had visited the Gandan Monastery, where the relics will now be displayed, presented a Bodhi Tree sapling to Hamba Lama, and defined India and Mongolia as spiritual neighbours during his address to the Mongolian Parliament. 
 India has since doubled down on its efforts to leverage its 'soft power, and develop and promote the Buddhist circuit, a move made with an eye on China, which has also invested heavily in infrastructure projects to cultivate Buddhist leaders.
India also printed and presented 75 copies of 108 volumes of the 'Mongoliam Kanjur', a Buddhist canonical text, for distribution to every monastery across Mongolia, and has undertaken to digitize Kanjur manuscripts for the Mongolian government.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his departure on Sunday, Rijiju said he will return to India on June 16 after attending the Buddha Purnima celebrations there on  June 14. However, a team of officials from the National Museum will remain in Mongolia through the 11-day period during which the relics will be on display and will bring them back to India.

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