Thousands more reportedly did not make it to the venue as the narrow roads on the hills, newly carpeted, were clogged hours ahead of the meeting in which President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also participated.
Our region is blessed to have given to the world the invaluable gift of Buddha and his teachings, he said, pointing out the significance of the shared heritage between the two peoples.
You will find in India a friend and partner that will support your nation-building endeavours, he said.
"Thank you Sri Lanka!".
Coming out of the shadow of the checkered past, India on Friday while appreciating the Buddhist linkages with Sri Lanka also sought to bridge geographical gap between the Tamil communities by acknowledging the Tamils on the Island Country as "Indian-origin Diaspora". "Ours is a friendship that lives in the hearts of our people and in the fabric of our societies".
The prime minister offered flowers at the altar of the temple.
He hailed the Indian-origin Tamils, many of them tea plantion workers, saying, "You are that indispensable backbone of the thriving Sri Lankan tea industry that justly prides itself on its success and global reach today". Under this 700 scholarships are available to students either in Sri Lanka or in India.
An official source estimated almost 35,000 people at the grounds that brimmed with men, women and children waving Indian and Sri Lankan flags.
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Modi, who made a helicopter journey to Dickoya, said he was aware that the Sri Lankan government is taking active steps to improve living conditions of Tamils including a 5- year National Plan of Action.
Sri Lanka also wants to establish a petroleum hub with the help of India in the eastern port city of Trincomalee, where Lanka IOC, the subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation, handles 15 of 99 oil tanks.
"The Government and people of India are with you in your journey towards peace and greater prosperity". He left on Friday evening after receiving a special blessing at the temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka's holiest Buddhist shrine, in the town of Kandy.
The Prime Minister arrived in Colombo on Thursday evening for a two-day visit. He was received by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and several other senior ministers.
Soon after his arrival, he visited one of Sri Lanka's oldest Buddhist temples, the Seema Malaka Temple and took part in the traditional lamp-lighting ceremony.
The temple's chief monk received the two leaders.
Modi recalled Mahatma Gandhi's visit to central Lanka some 90 years ago to spread the message of socio-economic development and said in commemoration of his historic visit, Mahatma Gandhi International Centre was set up with Indian assistance in Matale in 2015.
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