Lumbini, Where I was Born, A Travelling Exhibition on the Birthplace of the Buddha at the Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon, Myanmar from 19th to 30th October, 2019 successfully concluded.
A travelling exhibition on the Birthplace of the Buddha organized by the Lumbini Development Trust, Government of Nepal at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, was graciously inaugurated by Rt. Honorable Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari President of Nepal during her State Visit to Myanmar on October 19, 2019. The President was accompanied by Honorable Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Foreign Minister of Nepal, His Excellency Aung Ko Myanmar’s Union Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture, His Excellency Phyo Min Thein, Chief Minister of Yangon Region, Myanmar, Venerable Metteyya Sakyaputta, Vice Chairman of the Lumbini Development Trust, Mr. Shanker Das Bairagi, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Nepal and His Excellency Bhim Krishna Udas, Nepal’s Ambassador to Myanmar.
In his inaugural speech, Venerable Metteya Sakayaputta, Vice Chairman of the Lumbini Development Trust, said it is a great honor to organize an exhibition in Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred site in Myanmar, holding relics of the four previous Buddha's of this era where 40,000 to 90,000 people visit per day. Given that three of the past four Buddhas were born in present day Nepal, as recorded by Emperor Asoka’s pillars, there perhaps could not be a more ideal venue than this iconic gilded stupa area to showcase Lumbini and the surrounding sacred sites.
The exhibition titled ‘Lumbini, Where I was Born’ brings glimpses of the Buddha’s birthplace, Nepal, to Myanmar where Buddhism was preserved and continues to flourish in extraordinary measure. The aim of the exhibition is to showcase not only Lumbini, but also other major Buddhist sites in Nepal such as Kapilavastu, the ancient capital of the Sakya Kingdom where Prince Siddhartha lived until the age of 29, Devadaha His maternal home, Gotihawa and Niglihawa where the Asoka pillars marking the birthplace of two previous Buddhas Krakkuchanda (Kakusandha) and Kanakmuni (Konagamana) are located, Ramagrama, the only original relic stupa still containing the corporal relics of Sakyamuni Buddha and other Buddhist circuits in Nepal.
The exhibition also highlights the pivotal role of a Myanmar national—the then Secretary General of the United Nations—U Thant, who visited Lumbini in 1967. Thant understood Lumbini’s universal significance and put into motion an international campaign to develop Lumbini into a major pilgrimage and tourism site, transforming it into a Centre for Universal Peace. This was a turning point for the development of Lumbini.
As part of the Government of Nepal’s vision to increase tourism with its Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, the exhibition was organized by the Lumbini Development Trust, Government of Nepal in close collaboration of the Embassy of Nepal, Myanmar. It was jointly curated by the UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, Durham University UK and the Lumbini Museum. The exhibition was coordinated by Mr. Gyanin Rai of the Lumbini Development Trust and Ms. Sumnima Udas of the Lumbini Museum. The team of experts included Professor Robin Coningham a leading archaeologist from Durham University, Mr. Kai Weise, international heritage management consultant and Dr. Craig Barclay Director of the Oriental Museum, Durham UK. Mr. Surendra Muni Shakya, Treasurer, Mr. Saroj Bhattarai, Acting Member Secretary, Mr. Rajesh Gyawali, Member of the Trust and Ven. Nigrodha, former Vice Chair of the Trust also participated in the program. The exhibition was held from the 19th to 30th of October, 2019 at Shwedagon Pagoda and will continue display at the National Museum, Yangon.