(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Four distinguished Sri Lankan Buddhist monks undertook a visit to Jakarta, Indonesia on 25 September 2023 as part of the Temple-to-Temple Diplomacy Programme launched by the State Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This visionary initiative was set in motion by State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya, with the blessings of the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka. Under the guidance of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Indonesia and ASEAN Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage, the Sri Lankan Embassy in Jakarta coordinated with the temples in Indonesia to arrange the visit.
The visiting monks have been warmly welcomed by the two Indonesian temples: Vihara Jakarta Dhammacakka Jaya and Vihara Siddharta. During their stay, the Sri Lankan monks will explore temples in Jakarta, Semarang, and Bandung, including a visit to the Borobudur temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, which is also a UNESCO heritage site.
The temple-to-temple diplomacy programme stands as a unique approach to international relations, highlighting the profound cultural and religious ties between nations. This program serves as a bridge toward greater understanding, cooperation, and cultural exchange, fostering regional peace and stability. It is poised to pave the way for enhanced economic collaboration, tourism, and cultural exchanges.
Although the majority of Indonesians practice Islam, the Buddhist population (approximately 2 million) is also quite significant as they play an active role in the business community of Indonesia. Ven. Narada Maha Thero, a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, is considered as the first Theravada bhikkhu to have set foot in Indonesia, to revive Buddhism in the country..
The Sri Lankan Embassy is actively collaborating with temples across various Indonesian provinces to expand this diplomatic outreach.