VARANASI: An idol of goddess Annapurna, brought back from Canada after 108 years, was installed at the Kashi Vishwanath temple here on Monday in a ceremony attended by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The 18th-century idol was retrieved from the MacKenzie Art Gallery of the University of Regina in Canada.
The idol was installed and consecrated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath amid chanting of slogans and performance of Vedic rituals in the courtyard of Kashi Vishwanath temple on the occasion of Devthan Ekadashi on Monday.
Idols of five other deities removed during the reconstruction of the temple were also installed. The idol of the goddess was taken to the temple in a silver palanquin, shouldered by Adityanath.
The procession started from the Kushmanda temple in Durgakund in the morning. It was installed in the north-east corner of the temple amid chanting of hymns. The chief minister had arrived here on a two-day visit on Sunday night.
He inspected the cleaning and repair of the Shahi drain on the Lahurabir-Maidagin road late in the night and ordered to complete the work on a war footing. Adityanath also took stock of the construction of the Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor after paying obeisance at the temple.
While extending gratitude to PM Narendra Modi while addressing a gathering at Rudraksha international convention centre after the consecration ceremony, CM Yogi Adityanath said earlier the idols of deities used to be smuggled out of the country, now they are being brought back.
The CM said that idol theft for smuggling went on unabated during previous regimes as they were not concerned about it. “But the idol of Maa Annapurna returned to us following PM Modi’s efforts while returning from US following which he brought 156 such idols and antiquities with him,” said the CM.
“There was no other better place than Kashi Vishwanath Temple to install the idol of Goddess Annapurna which returned to us after being stolen 108 years ago. It will sensitize the coming generations about the symbols of our rich cultural heritage.
Regarding the delayed arrival of Rathyatra which commenced in New Delhi on November 11, CM Yogi said: “When the Rathyatra to bring the idol to Kashi was planned, it was decided that it will move 4-6 hours per day and halt at various locations in the night. But, lakhs of people kept turning up on roads in all districts falling in the passage of Rathyatra delayed it and even possibility of night stay on the way to Kashi also ended.”
Earlier, the UP minister of state (independent charge) for tourism and religious affairs Neelkanth Tiwari, who had left Ayodhya with Rath Yatra on Sunday morning could reach Varanasi at 4 am on Monday. Tiwari said as thousands of people at hundreds of points in Pratapgarh, Sultanpur and Jaunpur had surrounded the Rath of Maa Annapurna to welcome it and offer prayer to the deity added to the delay. A huge crowd was waiting at Kashi Vishwanath temple and showered petals on Rathyatra.
Before the arrival of the idol inside the temple, a group of 11 priests had started rituals of consecration. CM Yogi took it inside the temple in a silver palanquin and completed the rituals of consecration.
(With agency inputs)