Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his tour to Varanasi on Monday, visited the site of Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor Project and offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was also present.

Prime Minister Modi also lit the first ‘diya’ on the pious occasion of Dev Deepawali, setting off celebrations for the festival that is marked by lighting lakhs of earthen lamps on the banks of River Ganga in Varanasi.

“Dev Deepawali is special this year because it marks the return of Maa Annapurna,” said the PM while addressing the gathering.

PM Modi began his speech with a smattering of Bhojpuri and wished people Kartik Purnima and Gurpurab.

He added, “The statue of Maa Annapurna which was stolen from India over 100 years ago is coming back to the country. This is a fortunate moment for Kashi. If this effort was made earlier, many such statues would have been brought back to India. However, some people’s thinking is different. For us, inheritance means heritage. For some, inheritance means their own family.”

Praising Kashi, he said that the power of Kashi did not allow it to change even when a lot changed elsewhere amid the Corona pandemic.

“People of Kashi are live Shiva and Devi. Today, these lamps are also lit for those who have surrendered their life for the country. I salute our security forces,” he said adding that there are people who have made it a habit to oppose anything that is done.

“When we announced the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project, these people opposed it, but today the historic temple has a new look,” he stated.

Meanwhile, more than 15 lakh earthen lamps were lit up on the banks of the Ganga, casting a magical and mesmerising view. The Prime Minister, who travelled on a cruise, first stopped at Lalita Ghat and offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

He performed the ‘Rudra-Abhishek’ at the temple and then took stock of the work at the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor. Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath then travelled back on the cruise to Raj Ghat where he lit the first lamp.

The entire river bank was already lit up with thousands of earthen lamps, casting a shadow of shimmering lights on the water.

PM Modi also witnessed a cultural programme on the occasion and launched the website ‘Pawan Path’. Later, he went to Sarnath where he witnessed a light and sound show based on the life of Lord Buddha.

(With IANS inputs)