Stamp withdrawn over Lumbini location controversy

2600th Sambuddhatva Jayanthiya
By Chandani Kirinde

One of the stamps issued to commemorate the 2600th Sambuddhatva Jayanthiya, depicting Lumbini, the birth place of the Buddha as a part of India, has been withdrawn due to requests made by religious and nationalist groups in Nepal who say this venerated Buddhist site is in their country.

Posts Ministry Secretary Hemasiri Fernando told the Sunday Times that 18,000 of these stamps of the Rs. 5 denomination are being withdrawn from general circulation but would not be cancelled as had been demanded by some groups.

“A request was sent through our Ambassador Thosapala Hewage in Nepal expressing concern about the location of Lumbini in India. I explained that during the time of the Buddha, there was only one nation in the sub-continent but some of the groups were adamant about it and wanted it withdrawn,” Mr. Fernando said.

The set of four stamps issued to mark the Sambuddhatva Jayanthiya celebrations have run into controversy even in Sri Lanka with some stamp lovers as well as members of the Buddhist clergy alleging that the stamps that depict four of the most venerated places of Buddhist worship – Lumbini, Buddha Gaya, Saranath, and Kusinara do not highlight these specified geographical locations and point to other discrepancies in them as well.

Mr. Fernando said the stamps had got the approval of a sub-committee set up by the Presidential Secretariat which also comprised members of the Buddhist clergy and hence such allegations are unfounded.

However he said that stamps that are being issued since he took over several months ago are going through a more rigorous process before approval is granted for their printing. “We want to target the international philatelic market. The new set of ten stamps that will be issued to mark World Tourism Day will be of the highest quality,” he said.

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