VVIP visits to Lumbini bring Buddha’s birthplace to limelight
September 1, 2018 07:58 AM NPT
By: Rekha Bhusal
Myanmar’s President U Win Myint during a visit to Lumbini on Wednesday. | Photo: Republica
LUMBINI, Sep 1: President of Myanmar U Win Myint and first lady Dow Cho Cho visited the birthplace of Lord Buddha in Lumbini on Wednesday. After three hours of visit in the sacred place, the couple expressed joy and gratefulness for the opportunity.
In the visitor’s note, they wrote that they would love to thank Nepali people and the government of Nepal to make it happen.
In an informal talk with Nepal’s foreign minister and officials, President Myint said that Mayanmar highly reveres Gautam Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini and each citizen of his country would love to visit Lumbini at least once in their lifetime.
“The president and first lady were so much overwhelmed. They stated that Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini is in the heart of each citizen of Mayanmar, and they wish to come here at least once in their lifetime,” said Monk Maiteya, vice president of Lumbini Development Trust. “He said informally Lumbini is in the heart and mind of the people of Myanmar,” he added.
On Saturday, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisen will also tour Lumbini.
In February, a Bhutanese princess had visited Lumbini. The team of 15 had reached to Tilaurakot of Kapilbastu. It was followed by Spanish deputy mayor. Since then, many other VIPs from different countries have come here, according to the trust officials.
“Lumbini is a pilgrimage for many, especially for those who adore Lord Buddha and his teachings. They show deep reverence toward this place. We received many important visitors last year too,” reports Maiteya. “Luis Carlos, the deputy mayor of Spanish capital Madrid, was here and he too was so much overwhelmed,” he added.
Carlos had then suggested that Lumbini should be developed as a center for mediation for world-wide people. Lubini visit could be a priceless experience for anyone who loves Buddha and advocates for world peace, he had noted. According to Maiteya, he insisted one and all to make a tour to Lumbini and internalize the message of Buddha.
Eight months ago, VIPs from Vietnam including the chief justice had made a trip to Lumbini. Three months ago, high ranking officials from Thailand had also come to Lumbini. Similarly, Korean team that also included VIPs and VVIPs had made the tour.
“It has been around five years since we have noticed increased frequency of such visits. Before that, it would be quite occasional,” Maiteya informed. “It is a matter of great pleasure for us that Lord Buddha’s birth place is being so much popular among world-class people. It helps bring about changes,” he added.
Trust officials credit international summits for the growing craze of Lumbini. The SAARC Summit held in Nepal four years ago and BIMSTEC Summit are big opportunities for Lumbini’s international exposure, they say.
“Though ardent followers of Buddha do not need an occasion to come here, such international programs still bring it to the limelight. It helps Lumini draw attention and become more popular,” said Maiteya.
In the last one year, a huge number of foreign dignitaries have visited Lumbini. Record at the trust says that over a dozen of VVIPs toured Lumini within a year.
The visit of the high profile people always boost tourism. It has impacts both in the short term and the long term. According to the chief planning officer of the trust Saroj Bhattarai, VIP visit in Lumbini has indeed boosted the tourism sector.
“It is very inspiring that more and more VIPs are visiting Lumbini. But we need to be aware that we give attention to quality of tourism growth and not just quantity,” he said.
According to information officer at the trust, Haridowj Rai, the government should make even more efforts for the development of Lumbini. “It is very remarkable that the government organizes trip to Lumbini during such high level meetings. But, to develop Lumbini, there must other efforts as well,” he said. “This place actually can draw way more tourists than we are receiving now. The name of Buddha itself is enough attract people here. We should come up with the best packages for tourists to enhance tourism, “he added.