"Mei sapaz khushi tuhi meelith (I feel happy to meet you all) " - this is how President Ram Nath Kovind began his speech at the convocation ceremony of the University of Kashmir in Srinagar on Tuesday, as he noted that Kashmir's spiritual and cultural influence has an imprint all across India.
Immediately after greeting the dignitaries present at the SKICC auditorium overlooking the famous Dal Lake, the president said, "May I speak a few words in Kashmiri.
"Mei sapaz khushi tuhi meelith (I feel happy to meet you all)," President Kovind said with a smile, drawing applause from the audience, including students.
President Kovind said almost all religions that came to Kashmir embraced the unique feature of "Kashmiriyat" that shunned orthodoxy and encouraged tolerance and mutual acceptance among communities.
"I take this opportunity to urge upon the younger generation of Kashmir to learn from their rich legacy. They have every reason to know that Kashmir has always been a beacon of hope for the rest of India. Its spiritual and cultural influence has left an imprint all across India," he added.
The president expressed confidence that the youngsters and the women of Kashmir will use democracy to build a peaceful and prosperous future.
Several prime ministers over the years have spoken Kashmiri words in their speeches to connect with the locals.
In February 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the audience at SKICC by surprise when he spoke in Kashmiri.
"Yeth teeri gatkaras manz chus bae mohabbat-uk alaaw zalni aamut (In this bone-chilling cold of Kashmir, I have come to light the lamp of love," PM Modi had said in Kashmiri at an event.
In April 2003, at a rally in Srinagar, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee received thunderous applause from the crowd when he recited a famous couplet from Kashmiri Poet Mehjoor.
"Wala ho baaghwano, nav baharuk shaan paida kar, pholan gul gath karan bulbul, ki sui saman paida kar (Let us build an atmosphere where flowers bloom, birds chirp and play and it will be a paradise)," Vajpayee had said during his 20-minute speech at the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)