ISLAMABAD: The National History and Literary Heritage Division on Monday organised Vesakh Festival (Buddha Day) in the federal capital for the first time and a 50-member delegation of Monks from Sri Lanka attended the festival. PM adviser on National History and Literary Heritage Irfan Siddiqui was the chief guest in the inaugural ceremony of the festival. The festival inaugural ceremony was attended by Sri Lankan Minister of Primary Industries Daya Gamage, Sri Lanka Deputy Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Gamage, Sri Lanka High Commissioner to Pakistan Major General (retitred) Jayanath Lokuketagodage, 50 members delegation of Monks, devotees and media persons from Sri Lanka. National History and Literary Division Secretary Mohsin Haqani, Joint Secretary Mashhood Mirza and other senior officials of the division were also present on the occasion. Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Irfan Siddiqui said that “We are proud to be custodian of holy Relics and Buddhist monasteries, asset of the whole mankind.” He expressed hope that mutual cooperation and friendship would further grow between the two friendly countries Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the times to come. “Culture makes it easier for people to understand each other better,” he said. “It is a result of cultural and people to people contact between the two countries that Pakistan decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha for the first time in Pakistan,” he said. He said that “We are alive to our national and international responsibilities for proper preservation, protection and projection of holy establishments of all faiths on the soil of our country.” Pakistan is committed to safe guard and preserve not only all the Buddhist archeological sites and monuments but also such kind of ritual places of other religions as well in the best possible manner, he said. Forturnately, Pakistan has a rich culture and heritage spanning a period onward from the old stone age down to the present time, he mentioned. He said that the traces of earliest known urban settlement in the history of sub-continent could be found in various parts of Pakistan including Mehergarh, Moenjodaro and Harappa. He said that Pakistan had sent Gandhara relics of Buddha to Sri Lanka on a month long exhibition as a token of friendship from the people of Pakistan for the people of Sri Lanka from May 19 to June 30, 2016 on the occasion of the Vesakh festival on the special instructions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He said that Pakistan would intend to materialise visits of delegations under cultural exchange programme signed between the two countries in January this year. Sri Lankan Minister of Primary Industries Daya Gamage thanked the government of Pakistan for organising first Vesakh festival in Pakistan. A delegation of 50 Buddhist Monks, devotees and media persons from Sri Lanka are currently visiting Pakistan on the invitation of the government for celebrating the Vesakh Festival. He said that the members of the delegation would visit holy places of Buddhists and also perform their religious rituals. Vesakh Festival is also known as Buddha Purnima (Full moon). Buddha Day is observed as holiday in all Buddhist countries of Asia and some other places of the world. Vesakh Festival is celebrated to commemorate events of significance to Buddhist of all traditions; the birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha.