Janakpur, November 4 (NIA): Symbolic of improved ties between Nepal and India since Pushpa Kamal Dahal became Prime Minister of Nepal. India’s President Pranab Mukherjee received a grand reception in Janakpur – the birth place of Sita – when he visited it on Friday.
Janakpur is populated by the Madhesi community which is of Indian origin. It is the cradle of the ancient Mithila civilization, and its famous Janaki temple is the birthplace of Sita, a princess of the Mithila kingdom who married Lord Rama of Ayodhya in India.
Nepali Times said that Mukherjee’s visit to Janakpur is symbolically meaningful as this town in Nepal’s southern plains bordering India, signifies the shared history of Nepal and India. But it was also one of the flash points in last year’s Madhes agitation over their constitutional rights, which was overtly backed by New Delhi.
In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had wanted to visit Janakpur. He planned to enter Nepal via Janakpur, offer prayers at the Janaki temple, and address a public gathering there. But this was thwarted by Nepal’s then-Prime Minister, Sushil Koirala, who said that Maoists will create trouble for the visitor.
But unlike Modi, Mukherjee did not face obstacles in realizing his dream of visiting Sita’s birthplace. Locals lined up by the roadside waving the national flags of the two countries. Mukherjee’s motorcade passed through more than 50 welcome arches between the airport and the Tiruhutiya Gachhi – a historical place in Janakpur where he was felicitated at a grand civic reception.
He later offered prayers at the Janaki Temple. The temple had been cleaned, painted and decorated ahead of his visit.
Last year, during the Madhes agitation for a better deal for them in the new Nepalese constitution, Nepalese President Bidya Bhandari’s motorcade was attacked. Madhes activists even washed the Janaki temple with holy water because Bhandari, being a widow, had “defiled” the temple by her entry.