TAXILA: “We provide opportunities to people from five diverse cultures to study and analyse the rich cultural heritage of Gandhara in the ancient metropolis of Sirkap where followers of different religions had lived peacefully in the 2nd century BC,” Dr Park Kyo Soon, general secretary of the Gandhara Art and Culture Association (GACA), Pakistan, told the press at the site of Sirkap near Taxila.
Participants of a recent study tour, including Charlotta Lagerdanhl from Sweden, Samir Hamman from Egypt, Luke Wattan from the United Kingdom and Theophile Gaudolfo from France, were also present. GACA had organised the tour in collaboration with the Centre for Culture and Development (C2D).
Dr Park, who is from South Korea, said that this land was a true example of spreading peace and interfaith harmony as Buddhism was practiced as the state religion. She said that Gandhara under the state religion of Buddhism had spread Lord Buddha’s message of peace, harmony and tolerance across the globe.
She said that discoveries of chapels, lamps and cross at the ancient site of Sirkap revealed that all other religions had equal freedom when Buddhism was practiced as state religion.
Foreign tourists praise Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage
“This was the land where people from diverse cultures and religions lived together for decades,” said C2D Director Izza Khan. She said that the event would play a pivotal role in the understanding of different cultures keeping in view how people from different religions lived together peacefully in 2nd century BC.
Charlotta Lagerdanhl from Sweden lauded the efforts of the government and people of Pakistan for preserving the ancient Buddhist civilisation, while Samir Hamman from Egypt said that there was need for proper projection of the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan across the world.
He said that Pakistan should adopt Egyptian model for promotion of its rich cultural assets and tourism.
Luke Wattan from the UK said that this was his fourth visit to Pakistan and second to Taxila. He said that this land had rich cultural heritage and time had come that world countries should join hands to study and explore the methods of interfaith harmony, peace and tolerance.
Theophile Gaudolfo from France termed Gandhara art as one of the splendid arts which could promote Pakistan’s soft image in world.
Ayaz Kiyani, a scholar, said that relationship between people and land was immensely important for interfaith understanding.
Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2019