A day after he won millions of hearts in Nepal with his speech in the country’s Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to touch religious chords.
On Monday morning, Modi, who is on a two-day visit to the Himalayan nation, reached Pashupatinath Temple, the most sacred Lord Shiva shrine in Nepal, and conducted special prayers.
“He took part in a special ‘puja’ which was conducted by Ganesh Bhatta, the Indian head priest of the temple, and lasted for 35 minutes,” said Govinda Tandon, member secretary of Pashupati Area Development Trust.
The prime minister also made an offering of 2500 kilos of sandalwood. Nearly half kilo of sandalwood paste is used daily on the Shiva ‘linga’ at the temple.
Considering steep price of the commodity, temple authorities had requested India to provide the sandalwood. Worth several crores of rupees the quantity would last 12-15 years.
Since it was a Monday on the auspicious month of Shrawan, thousands of devotees had thronged at the temple, which was decorated with flowers to welcome the Prime Minister.
Elaborate security arrangements were in place and two Nepali Army choppers carried out an aerial survey of the area around the temple before Modi arrived at 9:25am clad in saffron kurta and shawl.
Modi spent one hour inside the shrine conducting special prayers and visiting over dozen other temples and monuments located inside.
“He performed the ‘puja’ with dedication and devotion and asked about the temple’s history during the tour of the premise,” informed Tandon. Modi signed the visitors’ book at the temple before leaving.
He was offered various gifts by PADT and Nepal’s tourism ministry that included a ‘shaligram’ (a usually black fossil found in Nepal and worshipped as symbol of Lord Vishnu).
Tandon informed that Modi didn’t offer any financial aid for development of the temple, but the things discussed during the Joint Commission meeting both countries last month will be implemented.
During external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visit to Nepal there were talks on constructing 400-bedded ‘dharamshala’ for devotees, Rs. 25 crore for conservation of the temple complex and a master plan for development of the area with Indian help.