Hanoi: A second sapling of the revered ‘Bodhi' tree from Gaya in Bihar was today planted in Vietnam's Presidential palace by President Pranab Mukherjee, 55 years after India gifted the first offshoot of the holy tree to this Communist country.
Mukherjee along with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang planted the sapling in the nicely maintained lawns of the palace soon after the two leaders finished delegation-level talks and signed seven pacts.
The sapling was carried in a small wooden box as a gift to the country and people of Vietnam. It was procured from the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) a few days back. India has been traditionally gifting saplings of this gigantic tree to countries it has strong bonds of trust and friendship.
Under the Bodhi Tree at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment 2,600 years ago and became the Lord Buddha.
The first ‘Bodhi' tree in Vietnam was gifted by then President Rajendra Prasad to his counterpart President Ho Chi Minh in 1959 and it was planted in the Tran Quoc Pagoda here. Mukherjee will circumambulate this tree tomorrow. Buddhists revere the holy Bodhi Tree and even the leaves are worshipped by them.
Though Vietnam is a Communist country and has no official religion, many practice Buddhism. Many Vietnamese travel to Bodh Gaya in Bihar every year.
Early this year, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh handed over a sapling of the Bodhi Tree to South Korean President Park Geun-hye as a special gesture of India's friendship and goodwill when she visited India.
The 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi temple is a World Heritage Site where the Buddha, who was born at Lumbini in neighbouring Nepal, attained enlightenment around 2,500 years ago. The Bodh Gaya temple is visited by millions of pilgrims annually from all over the world, especially from Sri Lanka, China, Japan and the Southeast Asian region.
Mukherjee is on a four-day state visit to the country and he will travel to country's largest twon Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow.