KATHMANDU – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during his visit to Lumbini as part of his four-day official trip to Nepal, expressed his delight at the opportunity to be in Lumbini and convey the message of peace to the world from the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.
Guterres, who arrived in Lumbini via a special flight from Pokhara today, spoke to the media near the Ashoka Pillar, saying, “From Lumbini, I urge everyone to put an end to all forms of conflicts occurring across the world.” He expressed his happiness to be in Lumbini and called for an end to wars in Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, and Sudan.
He also voiced concerns about the impact of climate change on the environment. The UN Secretary-General highlighted the essentiality of peace and humanity, stressing that humanity should not be allowed to perish. He pointed out that the message of Buddha, the principles of Panchasheel (five principles of peaceful coexistence), and the UN’s mission share similarities.
During his visit, Guterres paid homage to the Mayadevi Temple. He walked from the Shanti Deep (the eternal peace flame) to the temple, lighting the peace lamp at Shanti Deep. He also observed a sapling plantation in the area. He attended a welcome ceremony organized by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT).
According to Sanuraja Shakya, the member secretary of LDT, the UN Secretary-General received a grand welcome at the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. Buddhist abbots, monks, priests, nuns from the monasteries, local women’s groups, various community groups, including the indigenous Tharu people, and hotel entrepreneurs in Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality all welcomed the UN Secretary-General along the route from the Shanti Deep (peace lamp) to the Mayadevi Temple. Guterres also signed the guest book at the LDT.
His visit to the world heritage site, Lumbini, is expected to further promote the significance of Buddha’s birthplace and his message of peace and to boost tourism in Lumbini. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda,’ Lumbini Province Chief Minister Dilli Bahadur Chaudhary, federal Minister for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, Sudan Kirati, Minister of State for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, Sushila Shreepali, and LDT Vice-Chair Dr. Lharkyal Lama were there to greet the UN Secretary-General’s arrival in Lumbini.
During the visit, he was also apprised of Lumbini Development Master Plan, ongoing excavation and research efforts in the area, and historical and archaeological matters related to Lumbini . Guterres is the sixth UN Secretary-General to visit Lumbini, with U Thant being the first to visit in 1967. U Thant’s visit is considered the starting point for the planned development of Lumbini