'It's a Pilgrimage for Me': Modi Marks 157th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at Belur Math

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joins morning prayers at Belur Math on Sunday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joins morning prayers at Belur Math on Sunday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spent the night at Belur Math, joined morning prayers at the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission on Sunday.

Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the morning prayers at Belur Math on Sunday as he marked the 157th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission during his two-day visit to the state.

Modi, who stayed overnight at the Math in neighbouring Howrah district, visited the temple of Swami Vivekananda early on Sunday to pay respects to the spiritual leader. He then visited the main temple building and paid tribute to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa.

Swami Vivekananda's birth anniversary is also observed as the National Youth Day.

Speaking on the occasion, Modi said his visit to the Math is a “pilgrimage” for him and thanked the Mamata Banerjee government for accepting his request to stay there.

“Coming to Belur Math is no less than a pilgrimage. I am thankful to the president of the Math that they allowed me to stay here. I would also like to thank the government for accepting my request and letting me stay here,” he said.

“The last time I came here, I had taken the blessings of Swami Atmasthanandaji. Today, he is not physically present with us. But his work, his path, will always guide us in the form of Ramakrishna Mission,” Modi added.

The PM reached Belur Math late on Saturday and spent the night there instead of proceeding to Raj Bhavan. After reaching Belur Math, located in neighbouring Howrah district across the Hooghly river, the prime minister met RKM president Swami Smaranananda.

Modi was received by senior monks of the order after he reached Belur taking the river route from Kolkata.

He was served prasad (food offered to god) comprising five fried dishes, luchi, rice pudding, sweets and fruits after he arrived.

The link between the prime minister and the Ramakrishna Mission goes back to mid-60s when a teenaged Modi, inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, had arrived at the Mission's Rajkot branch in Gujarat and expressed the desire to join the order.

This is Modi's second visit to Belur Math after becoming prime minister. On May 10, 2015, a "deeply emotional" Modi had spent a few morning hours at the Math, praying and meditating.

He had then meditated in ascetic-philosopher Swami Vivekananda's room, which was specially opened at his request.

Later on Sunday, he will participate in the sesquicentenary celebrations of the Kolkata Port Trust. The prime minister and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will share the dais at the Netaji Indoor Stadium again during the event following their cold meeting upon Modi’s arrival on Saturday.

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