Marking a new chapter in centuries-old ties between India and Japan. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe along PM Narendra Modi visited Varanasi.
Varanasi hosted an audio-visual treat non pareil for PM Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on the banks of the holy Ganga on Saturday, marking a historic occasion in this oldest city of the world.
The ‘Ganga aarti’ held for the two PMs was far more wondrous and awe-inspiring than what Varanasi citizens had seen every day for the past two decades. The magnitude and grandeur of this event was nothing short of magical.
Union Minister Kalraj Mishra was heard telling reporters later that even though he belonged to Varanasi, such a magnificent experience was beyond his imagination.
The extravaganza was not limited to sights and sounds, lights and music, prayers and chants. It transcended into the divine, holding thousands of onlookers in a deep trance for almost an hour.
Both Modi and Abe seemed to be under a spell as they sat together taking in the glory of the Ganga and its ritual worship from a special platform built 20 feet into the water at the famous Dashashwamedh Ghat.
The PMs seemed in complete harmony with the goings-on as they offered prayers at the river bank, aided by the holy Hindu priests to the chanting of Vedic ‘mantras’. Modi in a serene ochre ‘kurta pyjama’ was contrasted by Abe in a similar black dress set off by a camel coloured waist coat.
The ‘Ganga aarti’ started with the blowing of conch shells. As the chanting of the priests grew to a crescendo, Modi and Abe clapped to the beat of the ‘damru’ (hand-held percussion of Lord Shiva), clearly spellbound by the mystical experience. Modi was seen enjoying a perfect camaraderie with Abe, indulging in a friendly banter. At times, he spoke with a certain earnestness, perhaps explaining the intricacies of Hindu worship and its rituals.
The entire ‘ghat’ was luminous with immumerable lamps, ‘diyas’ and candles lighting up the environs with a brilliance difficult to capture in words. Added to this were lights and laser beams which imbued the entire expanse with a million hues.
As the priests danced with huge candelabras, as if in a trance, the divine merged into the sublime. The two PMs and everyone present was drenched in spirituality as the riverbank glowed with an ethereal radiance. The Ganga had submerged all in its ethereal spate.