Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited the mausoleum of 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Tungipara in Bangladesh's southwestern Gopalganj district and paid floral tributes to him.
Mr Modi earlier offered prayers at the centuries-old Jeshoreshwari Kali temple in Ishwaripur village in southwestern Bangladesh and announced that India will build a multi-purpose community hall for the worshippers.
Mr Modi was received at the mausoleum by his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, who is the daughter of Rahman. Sheikh Rehana, the youngest daughter of Rahman was also present.
Mr Modi, who was covering his face with a mask, paid floral tributes to 'Bangabandhu' and stood in silence for a few minutes while Ms Hasina and her Cabinet colleagues offered 'Fatiha'. He is the first Indian dignitary to ever visit Bangabandhu's grave.
He signed the visitors' book at the mausoleum complex and planted a sapling at its premises.
India's prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 was conferred on Bangabandhu this week. It was for the first time that the award was given away posthumously.
Mr Modi earlier said Bangabandhu was a champion of human rights and freedom, and a hero to Indians as well.
Rahman was imprisoned in Pakistan, which was forced to set him free on January 8, 1972.
He returned to Dhaka on January 10, 1972. He later took over as Prime Minister of Bangladesh but was assassinated by some military officers during a coup d'etat on August 15, 1975. His wife, brother, sons and daughters-in-law were also assassinated along with him. Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana survived as they were in Europe.
Jeshoreshwari Kali temple
Upon his arrival at the temple, Mr. Modi, who was covering his face with a mask, was welcomed in a traditional way. Inside the temple, Mr. Modi offered prayers and sat on the floor while the priest was reciting the religious texts.
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“Feeling blessed after praying at the Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple,” Mr. Modi tweeted after offering prayers at the temple in southwestern Shatkhira district, bordering India.
“PM @narendramodi places hand made Mukut on Ma Kali. Mukut made of silver with gold plating. Hand made over three weeks by a traditional artisan,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
Speaking outside the temple, Mr. Modi said that he prayed to Goddess Kali to free the human race from COVID-19 ( coronavirus .)
Noting that a large number of devotees from across the border and Bangladesh visit during ‘ Maa Kali mela ’ at the temple, Mr. Modi said a community hall is needed which should be multi-purpose so that when people come here during Kali puja, it is useful for them too. Mr. Modi said India will build a multi-purpose community hall at the temple.
“It should be useful for social, religious and educational events for local people. Most importantly, it should act as a shelter for all at the time of disasters such as cyclones. India will do construction work. I express my gratitude to the Bangladesh government that they have wished us well for this,” Mr. Modi said.
According to Hindu mythology, the Jeshoreshwari Kali temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths , scattered across India and neighbouring countries. Records suggest a Hindu king set up the temple in the 16th century.
Ahead of his visit to Bangladesh, Mr. Modi said on Thursday that he looks forward to offering prayers to Goddess Kali at the Jashoreshwari Kali temple located in Ishwaripur village in Shyamnagar upazila of Satkhira, which borders West Bengal.
The Hindu community and temple authorities with the government support redecorated the temple ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit.
Last time when Prime Minister Modi visited Bangladesh in 2015, he offered puja at Dhakeshwari temple in the national capital.
Bangladesh has taken extra security measures for the Indian premier’s visit in the wake of protests by a few leftist and Islamist groups.
Mr. Modi, who is visiting Bangladesh on his first trip to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus, on Friday attended the celebrations of the golden jubilee of the country’s independence, the birth centenary of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Dhaka.
In 2016, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) said their latest vital sample statistics report found the country’s total population to be 15.89 crore by the end of 2015 with the number of Hindus at 1.70 crore in the Muslim-majority nation.