The President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksha, formally concluded the Sri Lanka Peace Pad Yatra at a glittering ceremony held at Temple Trees (the official residence of the President of Sri Lanka) amidst an august gathering of Ministers, Parliamentarians, Ambassadors of various countries, and over 500 monastics and followers from across 26 countries. The highlight of the closing ceremony was the unveiling of a Commemorative Stamp on the Pad Yatra by the President in the presence of the Gyalwang Drukpa, Michelle Yeoh, Arjun Pandey (Head of Live to Love India), Tan Sri Dato' Seri Vincent Tan (Industrialist, current owner of Cardiff City F.C. and Chairman Berjaya Corporation Berhad), Amb. Francis Lorenzo (United Nations), Bawa Jain (World Council of Religious Leaders) and media. The commemorative stamp depicts the Pad Yatra with various Sri Lankan historic monuments in the backdrop and with the logos of Drukpa lineage and Live to Love in the foreground.
Buddha's Bone relic was also gifted to the people of Sri Lanka by the Gyalwang Drukpa. This relic has been in the possession of the Drukpa lineage since the 14th century, and was presented by the Gyalwang Drukpa to the people to encourage the pursuit of sustainable peace.
Spearheaded by Live to Love, a global humanitarian initiative, the Peace Pad Yatra or Foot Journey in Sri Lanka enjoyed the full-fledged support of the organising committee comprising Presidential Secretariat, National Youth Services Council (NYSC), Tharunyata Hetak, and Youth Social Federation.
The Pad Yatra started from Kataragama in the south on 6thMarch 2013, and covered a distance of around 500 kilometres before ending at Jaffna in the north. In between, the Pad Yatra crossed various key cities and holy sites in Sri Lanka, including Sri Pada, Kandy, Matale, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polannaruwa, and Anuradhapura.
The Gyalwang Drukpa, recipient of the United Nations Millennium Develop Goals Honour and of the NDTV-Toyota Green Hero Award in India, led the Pad Yatra with the objective of promoting peace and harmony, as well as an eco-friendly way of living. The Gyalwang Drukpa stated, "In order to promote peace in the world, we must first find peace within ourselves. In order to promote an eco-friendly way of living, we must first connect ourselves with nature. We live in a fast-moving world that focuses too much on material successandI believewe've becomedisconnected withour own environment. I feel that in modern times, aPad Yatraor"Foot Journey"is one of the most effective methods to restore the ecological balance and the peaceful state of mind, through reconnecting with our experiential understanding of nature."
This was the 6th Pad Yatra that the Gyalwang Drukpa spearheaded, and his first outside of India. Since 2006, the Gyalwang Drukpa has taken hundreds of environmentally concerned participants on foot journeys through various parts of India - Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Ladakh, Manali, Sikkim and Darjeeling, each time the participants picked up more than one ton of non-biodegradable waste and educated populace in the remote areas about the importance of keeping environment clean and green for future generations.
Key Details of the Pad yatra
Started - 6thMarch 2013 from Kataragama
Concluded - 4thApril 2013 at Jaffna
Concluding Ceremony - 6thApril 2013 at Temple Trees, Colombo
Total Pilgrims - over 650 (including 150 foreign followers)
Total on-ground volunteers - over 400 active and completely involved
Organisations Involved - Live to Love, Presidential Secretariat, National Youth Services Council (NYSC, Tharunyata Hetak, Youth Social Federation
Arjun Pandey, Head of Live to Love India, said, "After years of strife, peace is now settling in the region. The Pad Yatra is our tribune to the peace loving nation and its people and to humanity around the world. We will continue to draw out the love and respect for humanity in our continuous effort to create an even better and everlasting world."
Live To Love, a global humanitarian initiative founded by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Award winning philanthropist, the Gyalwang Drukpa, focuses on 5 directions to improve the world: Education, Medical Services, Relief Aid, Heritage Preservation and Environmental Sustainability. It supports regional activities in Brazil, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Live to Love has been at the forefront of various initiatives
Ashoka Stupa restoration in Nangchen, China in July 2012
Ladakh International Film Festival in June 2012
5 yearly Pad Yatras since 2006 to promote environment awareness
The 2nd Guinness World Record for "Most Trees Planted Simultaneously" in 2012 for planting 99,103 trees in 55 minutes
The first Guinness World Record for "Most Trees Planted Simultaneously" in 2010 for planting 55,000 trees
Relief mission to Ladakh post flash floods in August 2010
Relief mission to China's Yushu region post earthquake in April 2010