Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Lord Buddha on the occasion of Guru Poornima on Saturday and highlighted his teachings of non-violence, which he said were relevant even in today's world.
While delivering a video message to the nation on the occasion on Guru Poornima, a festival to worship the guru (master), the prime minister said, "To these challenges [that India is facing today], lasting solutions can come from the ideals of Lord Buddha. They were relevant in the past. They are relevant in the present. And, they will remain relevant in the future".
Modi also spoke about the cabinet decision to convert Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar Airport into an international one and said that it would facilitate the visit of pilgrims from across the world to the religious site and generate economic opportunities as well.
Kushinagar is the place where Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana (liberation after death).
The prime minister also talked about enhancing connectivity to other Buddhist sites in the country such as Sarnath in Varanasi - Modi's parliamentary constituency - emphasising that connecting with these Buddhist sites is the need of the hour.
Meanwhile, Indian President Ramnath Kovind also inaugrated Asadha Poornima celebrations at the Rashtrapati Bhavan organised jointly by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) and India's Ministry of Culture.
The event will witness participation by nearly 3 million devotees from across the world through a live webcast.
In his speech at the event, the president said: "As the pandemic ravages human lives and economies across the globe, the Buddha’s message serves like a beacon", adding that in India, Buddhism is seen as a fresh expression of the sublime truth.