LUCKNOW: The essence of "Atithi Devo Bhava (Guest is like God)" will take a soul in Varanasi, during next three days when the most ancient city will rise to welcome and embrace the Indian diaspora during the high-profile Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas commencing on Monday, January 21.
A usual biennial event will be different in many ways this time. The most striking difference will be the warmth people of Kashi are ready to convect to the NRIs thronging the city in thousands. Government arrangements apart, around 200 families of Varanasi will host the guests at their homes during the event . The preparations are in full swing.
While some are renovating their dwellings, others are busy putting the minutest things in place to ensure maximum comfort blended with original Banarasi heritage in all its cultural glory to the guests. District magistrate Surendra Singh and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Suresh Rao Anand Kulkarni will lead the Banarsis to host NRIs at their homes.
"I and my wife Garima are ready to host Dr Rajpal Singh and his wife Vijay as guests. They are coming from London and we have make all arrangements to make their stay an experience in itself," says the DM adding that he will ensure to treat his guests with the typical Banarasi flavour during their stay.
"I have planned to take them to the ghats of Varanasi and temples," he states.
The DM says 350 NRIs have opted for home stay. Some 4,150 NRI delegates from 85 nations have registered for the event, and approximately 1,000 of them will be staying in the tent city, especially, erected for the event at Erah.SSP, Varanasi, Suresh Rao Anand Kulkarni will host a guest from US.
"Rakesh Pathak will stay with us. Since he has expressed keen interest in Varanasi, its lifestyle and religio-cultural heritage, I will take him on a Kashi tour," says the SSP.
On day one, it will be the Youth Pravasi Diwas. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join CM Yogi Adityanath and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in welcoming the Pravasi Indians by inaugurating the conclave officially on January 22. The valediction will be paid to the pravasis by President Ram Nath Kovind himself on Janaury 23.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth of Mauritius as the chief guest. Jugnauth has his roots in Rasra village in Ballia district of the state, and he is likely to travel to his ancestral village during his stay in India.
While entrepreneur Ashok Gupta, to host three guests, including US-based NRI Anshuman Trikha. Gupta, is bubbling with excitement.
For him, it is a matter of prestige.
"Banaras has its quintessentially calm and beautiful morning -Subah-e-Banaras - to offer the guests. I will ensure to give my guests a feel of it. I will make them see the sun coming out of the shining waters of Holy Ganga in all its glory," says Gupta.
He says without the 'darshan' of Lord Shiva at Kashi Vishwanath temple, no Kashi visit can be completed.
"Banaras offers a multi-cuisine platter. I will make our guests taste it as much as possible during their three-day stay with us," says doctoral fellow Dr Sunil Mishra and his lecturer wife Swati S Mishra of Bajardeeha area. They will be hosting Poland-based guests Dr Jagdish and his wife Bogumilla Babur Gheek. The couple will reach Varanasi on Sunday itself.
"We will make their stay memorable in all possible ways so that they can take a bit of Kashi along," says MishraSimilarly, social worker Divya Ratan Chaturvedi and his wife Pratibha Chaturvedi, a teacher, are ready to treat Rajiv Chaturvedi and Pramila Chaturvedi, from Australia.
The couple say they will try to tickle their palate with home made banarasi dishes like Banarasi stuffed paratha, matar kachauri and homemade malai (cream) with bread.
"We will serve Banarasi delicacies, including kachauri, lassi and baati chokha, malaiyo and rabri, to the guests," plans Jai Pradhwani, the chartered accountant who is ready to welcome his guests at his home.
He says he will ensure a traditional stay for his NRI guests - Dr Chandrashekhar Mishra (US), Amit Wanikar (China) and Rajpal Tyagi (Oman). Pradhwani, who has planned to welcome his guests traditionally amid the chanting of shlokas, and drum beats with putting a tilak on their forehead, has also decided gifts for his guests - a book on Banarasi culture and heritage along with the 'Bhagwad Gita' and a Banarasi stole.
In fact, the families which will host the guests got themselves registered online volunteering their services. They were selected by the authorities on the basis of the set criteria for playing the host.
The largest troupe -- 432 NRIs -- will be from Malaysia. Likewise, 375 from UAE, 340 from Mauritius, 187 from the US, 134 from Qatar and 109 from Oman will come. Moreover, 450 Saraswati cottages, 120 Triveni cottages and 50 Kashi villas have been erected in the tent city for the guests.
As many as 100 NRIs will stay in 50 Kashi villas. The cottages are equipped with all the facilities.