Ramayana and Buddhism are two aspects that connect India and ASEAN and that is why they have been given prominence at the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today.
Speaking at the 'India-ASEAN Youth Awards', Swaraj said the relations between India and ASEAN date back to centuries and the links between the two countries are spread in diverse fields of history, culture, commerce and education.
The India-ASEAN Youth Award was one of the penultimate events in run-up to the ASEAN India Commemorative Summit to be held here on January 25.
She said scholars from the Southeast Asian region have been choosing India as an important learning centre and in the ancient times, they used to prefer the Nalanda University.
Cultural groups from the eight member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will present performances based on Ramayana.
Commemorative stamps on the epic will also be released during the summit.
Swaraj also narrated an incident about the Indian influence in Southeast Asia.
Swaraj said former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, during his visit to Indonesia as the External Affairs Minister, had seen a man making idols of Hanuman there.
"When Vajpayee enquired about why was the man, who appeared to be a Muslim, making the idol since Indonesia is a country with largest Muslim population, the man replied, 'We have changed our religion but not our ancestors'," Swaraj said.