Washington: The United States returned over 200 cultural artifacts to India at a ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Washington DC. Items returned included religious statues, bronzes and terra cotta pieces, some dating back 2,000 years, looted from India’s most treasured religious sites.
“I am grateful to President Obama for returning to us these treasures which join us to our past,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup quoted Modi as saying in a tweet.
“My gratitude to the US [government] for the sensitivity shown to India’s heritage,” Modi added, according to Swarup. “This will evoke great respect among the people of India.”
Among the pieces returned is a statue of Saint Manikkavichavakar, a Hindu mystic and poet from the Chola period stolen from the Sivan Temple in Chennai, is valued at $1.5 million. It also included in the collection is a bronze sculpture of the Hindu god Ganesh estimated to be 1,000-year-old.
US Attorney General Loretta E Lynch said the artifacts that speak to India’s astounding history and beautiful culture are beginning their journey home. Indian Ambassador to US Arun K. Singh said at news conference on Monday that the return of the artifacts was a major boost to the cultural treasure of India.
“These are significant because some of them date back to a thousand years from the period of the Chola dynasty,” Singh said.