VARANASI: As Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of Banaras, is fond of ‘kamal’ (lotus) the PM-in-waiting Narendra Modi offered 1,001 lotuses and ‘shashtra bilvapatra’ (1,000 leafs of bel) to the deity at Kashi Vishwanath Temple on Saturday.
It was Modi’s first visit to Varanasi after registering a resounding win from the holy city. His cavalcade reached at the ‘Chatta Dwar’ (one of the entry points of the temple) around 5.50pm. A sea of people was waiting for him for hours on the road leading to the temple. Showering rose petals on him, the crowd greeted him with ‘Har Har Mahadev’, the typical Banarasi style of showing respect to someone.
Modi, BJP president Rajnath Singh and UP in-charge Amit Shah, passing through the fortified Gyanvapi Mosque, went to the sanctum sanctorum of Kashi Vishwanath Temple to offer prayers. Under the guidance of a group of priests led by Vansh Narayan Chaubey, he performed ‘Rudrabhishek’ with 51 litres of milk. “Modiji ne ‘Shodashopachar’ vidhi se Baba ka pujan-archan kiya,” said Neeraj Kumar Pandey, one of the priests, adding that he (Modi) offered 1001 lotus to the deity. The other priests who guided Modi in performing puja were Chetnarayan Upadhyaya, Madan Mohan Tripathi and Shrikant Mishra. Chairman of the Temple trust Ashok Dwivedi and trustee Chandramauli Upadhyaya were also present.
It was Modi’s thanksgiving visit to the city after his victory in 2014 parliamentary election. Before the election, he had also offered prayer at Kashi Vishwanath temple when he was here to address Vijay Sankalp rally on December 20, 2013. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple enshrines one of the ‘Dwadash’ (12) Jyotirlingas. The temple in present form was built in 1777 by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. In 1839, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh had donated 820 kg gold for the plating to its shikhar (top).
After spending half-an-hour in the temple, Modi moved to Dashashwamedh Ghat to perform Ganga pujan and take part in Ganga aarti. Elaborate security arrangements were made during his visit.