South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook celebrated Diwali in Ayodhya on Tuesday, where she was treated to a dazzling display of over three lakh earthen lamps on the ghats of the Sarayu river, besides a spectacular sound-and-light show.
Kim, who attended the “Deepotsav” function at the Ram ki Paidi, also performed a ceremonial “aarti” along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the venue, before being treated to the display of over three lakh “diya” and the sound-and-light show on the water surface.
Earlier in the day, after arriving in Ayodhya around 2:30 pm from Lucknow in a special chopper, Kim began her tour by offering tributes at the Queen Heo Memorial.
Accompanied by Chief Minister Adityanath, she attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the upgrade and beautification of the memorial dedicated to the legendary princess of Ayodhya, who went to Korea and married a king there in 48 AD.
From there, she went to attend the festivities at the Ram Katha Park, where she was greeted by artists donning the avatar of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita, who arrived at the Park in a ceremonial chopper as part of the “Ram Durbar”.
Kim garlanded “Sita” as they got off the helicopter and Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and Adityanath welcomed “Lord Ram” and “Laxman”.
In her address at the park, she recalled the historic ties between India and Korea and said she prayed for both the countries as they moved towards a future of peace and prosperity together.
“Darkness cannot defeat light and if we all light lamps together, we can remove any darkness,” she said in Korean.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed delight that Kim wore a saree at the event and tweeted pictures of her.
“It is a matter of immense joy and pride that Mrs. Kim Jung-sook, First Lady of the Republic of Korea visited Ayodhya and also wore traditional Indian clothing. The people of India deeply appreciate this gesture. @moonriver365,” PM Modi tweeted.
Kim, in her speech at the park, thanked PM Modi for inviting her to India.
“Ayodhya and South Korea have an ancient link. This link forms the cornerstone of historical and civilisational bonds between India and the Republic of Korea,” PM Modi said in another tweet.
Kim’s standalone visit to India, which began on November 4, has rekindled the interest in the legendary princess who married a Korean king.
According to Korean legend, the princess of Ayodhya went to Korea in 48 AD and married king Kim-Suro.
A large number of Koreans trace their ancestry to this legendary princess, who is known as queen Heo Hwang-ok.
“The legend of queen Heo Hwang-ok binds the two countries together culturally and her (Kim’s) visit will further promote our people-to-people ties,” a senior official at the cultural wing of the South Korean Embassy in India told PTI.
An agreement regarding the Queen Suriratna Memorial Project was signed to facilitate the upgrade and expansion of the existing monument, commemorating princess Suriratna (queen Heo Hwang-ok).
In July, the two countries had signed the agreement for the expansion of the Suriratna memorial project.
Uttam Das, a seer from Ayodhya, told PTI, “It was a matter of honour for Ayodhya that she (Kim) visited the place.”
“A princess of Ayodhya had gone to Korea around 2,000 years ago and now, the first lady is visiting Ayodhya. Life has come full circle,” he said.
As part of the Deepotsav festivities, a Ramlila was performed by artistes from Russia, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Trinidad and Tobago.
On Wednesday, Kim is scheduled to go to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal.