Dhaka: Bangladesh has redecorated two Hindu temples in the country’s southwest ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit during which he will offer prayers there and attend the grand celebrations of the golden jubilee of the nation’s independence and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In his first trip to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Modi will visit Bangladesh from March 26 to 27 during which he will also hold restricted and delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Modi would be received by Hasina at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday morning, sources said.
During his two-day visit, Modi is scheduled to visit the Jeshoreshwari and Orkandi temples in southwestern Shatkhira and Gopalganj on Saturday.
“We have made all preparations to welcome him at this historic temple We expect him to pray for millions of people of both India and Bangladesh,” said Dilip Mukherjee, the priest of the Jeshoreshwari Kali Mandir – an ancient Hindu shrine located in Ishwaripur village in Shyamnagar upazila of Satkhira, which now borders West Bengal.
According to Hindu mythology, the Jeshoreshwari 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, Modi said on Thursday that he looks forward to offering prayers to Goddess Kali at the ancient Jashoreshwari Kali Temple.
Prime Minister Modi will visit the second temple in Gopalganj’s Orakandi, the abode of hundreds of Hindu Matua community, a large number of whom are residents of West Bengal.
Modi said he is looking forward to his interaction with representatives of the Matua community at Orakandi, from where Sri Sri Harichand Thakur disseminated his pious message.
“According to the schedule, Prime Minister Modi will exchange views with a delegation of 300 Matua community members after offering ‘puja’ at Harichand-Gurichand Temple,” caretaker of the temple, Padmanav Thakur, told PTI.
“We will welcome him with ‘Dhaak, Shankh, Ulu’ in line with our rituals,” he added.
Historians said the temple was raised in the 12th century at Orakandi, the birthplace of Hindu mystic figure and Matua community’s spiritual guru Harichand Thakur.
Analysts said Modi’s planned temple visits carry a political significance at the time of assembly elections in West Bengal.
The Hindu community and temple authorities with the government support redecorated both the temples and constructed concrete roads leading to the sites from nearby makeshift helipads and alternative helipads, set up overnight.
Last time when Prime Minister Modi visited Bangladesh in 2015, he offered puja at Dhakeshwari temple in the national capital.
Ahead of Modi’s visit, the whole area has turned festive while security has been beefed-up with the deployment of additional police forces.
Bangladesh has said extra security measures have been taken for the Indian premier’s visit in the wake of protests by few leftist and Islamist groups.
On the first-day of his visit, Modi will pay tributes to Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War martyrs at National Memorial at Savar, attend the birth centenary and golden jubilee celebrations at the National Parade Square and open jointly with Hasina the Bangabandhu-Bapu Museum.
Modi will also visit the mausoleum of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Tungipara in Gopalganj district on Saturday, the first Indian dignitary to ever visit the place.
The Prime Minister will also interact with diverse groups of Bangladesh’s polity and society which will include the representatives of the country’s ruling 14- party alliance, the Opposition party, freedom fighters, community leaders and youth icons.
A range of pacts will be signed and new announcements for bolstering cooperation in several areas will be made during his visit. These agreements will cover a number of areas of our cooperation. Some of the areas where agreements will be inked are disaster management, trade and oceanography.
There will be new announcements of cooperation in areas of culture, preservation of spirit of 1971, health railways, education, border development, power cooperation and start-ups.
Modi’s visit is taking place at a time Bangladesh is commemorating Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of the country’s war of liberation. The two countries are also celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties.