With Chants of Ramayan, PM, Emmanuel Macron Sail Down Ganga At Varanasi

French President Emmanuel Macron is in India with his wife Brigitte Macron on a four-day visit. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted him in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency

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With Chants of Ramayan, PM, Emmanuel Macron Sail Down Ganga At Varanasi

PM Narendra Modi took a boat ride with Emmanuel Macron on Ganga at Varanasi.

Varanasi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hosted French President Emmanuel Macron on a grand tour of Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, the highlight of which was a boat ride on the Ganga.

Two years ago, the Prime Minister had accompanied Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a tour to Varanasi, where the two had performed Ganga aarti -- the traditional puja of the sacred river -- and watched a cultural programme on the banks of the river.

The reception for the 40-year-old French Prime Minister was no less grand - with cultural programmes, Sanskrit slokas, classical music and dances presented along the ghats, some of them hundreds of years old, of India's oldest and holiest town.

Mr Macron - who had reached Delhi on Friday on a four-day visit with his wife Brigitte Macron - landed in Varanasi this morning on a special plane. At Assi ghat, he was given a traditional welcome, complete with garlands and a Shehnai recital before he boarded a flower-decked boat named "Bajra".

Besides PM Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also accompanied him for the 20-minute ride to the famed Dashashwamedh ghat, said to have been created by Lord Brahma.

Along the way, the various ghats were a riot of colours and music, with artistes holding various programmes: A recitation of Ramcharitmanas at Tulsi Ghat -- the Ramayana of 16th Century poet Tulsidas after whom the ghat was named; an enactment of the first sermon by Lord Buddha at Prabhu and Chetsingh ghats.

Ash-smeared Naga sadhus were present at Akhada Sri Niranjini Ghat. At Mansarovar Ghat, a recital of the couplets of Sant Kabir - a 15th Century saint ad mystic poet -- was on. At Pandey and Chausatti ghats, artistes performed kathak according to Banaras gharana - one of the three eminent styles of the ancient dance form -- to classical instrumental music.

The steps of the ghats were decorated with alpanas - traditional floral motifs in coloured powder and flower petals.

In the morning, PM Modi and Mr Macron had visited Mirzapur to inaugurate a 100-megawatt solar plant built by the French company Engie. Later, they came back to Varanasi to visit a handicrafts centre to watch weavers at work on the famed Banaras silk sarees and the carpets of Bhadohi.

They also watched "Chitrakoot" - a play based on Ramcharitmanas staged in the open auditorium that portrayed the life of Lord Ram during his 14-year exile.

After the boat ride, the two leaders had a private lunch. Mr Macron then flew back to Delhi as the Prime Minister stayed on to address a public rally.

(With PTI inputs)

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