British PM visits ancient temple in Bengaluru

Benglauru, Nov 8 (IANS) Clad in a colourful sari, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday visited a 700-year-old Hindu temple here and took blessings of its presiding deity Someshwara, a form of Lord Shiva.

“May stepped into the temple barefoot in sari and worshipped the deity in the spirit of our Hindu tradition by offering flowers, a coconut and betel nuts,” head priest Ramnath Deekshith told reporters.

Taking time off her busy schedule during her day-long visit to the city on the final leg of her three-day visit to India, the 60-year-old May drove to the temple and went around its precincts spanning the main hall, the Nandi statue, expressing her marvel at the architecture inside.

“May also witnessed the ritual of ‘arti’ and admired our way of worshipping the gods,” Deekshith said after taking her around the temple.

The original structure of the temple was built during the Chola period during the 14th-15th century.

Behind schedule in arriving at the temple, she spent about 10-12 minutes instead of 20 minutes originally planned.

“She was very happy to see the temple’s unique architecture and appreciated that our family has been performing the rituals and making offerings to the deity over the last 13 generations,” said Deekshith.

May, however, did not enter the sanctum sanctorum.

Hundreds of people gathered around the temple for a glimpse of May, while a few attempted to enter the premises but kept away by the security personnel.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen had visited temple in 2012 and exchanged garlands in the presence of the deity.

The temple was out of bounds for the devotees between 12.30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to facilitate May’s visit.