Bangalore: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is on a two-day visit to this tech-hub from Thursday, visited the 16th century Sri Someshwara (Shiva) Temple here with his wife Laureen and the accompanying 90-member official delegation. The temple was built by Bangalore city founder Kempe Gowda in the 16th century as a dedication to Lord Someshwara. "The Harpers entered the over 500-year-old temple barefoot and were given traditional welcome with Carnatic music and oil-lit lamps by head priest Sundar Dixit. He marvelled at the temple's architecture and style, which are a mixture of the historic Chola, Hoysala and Vijaynagara empires," an official, escorting the delegation, told IANS here.
When the Harpers walked into the temple's sanctum sanctorum and stood facing the presiding deity (Shiva) and his consort (Parvathi) amid the chanting of Vedic hymns (mantras), the priest made them exchange garlands of fragrant Mysore jasmine flowers, which amused the gathering, as the couple pronounced that they were 'married' again. "Laureen was excited by the ritual, which included lighting of the oil lamp with camphor and offering to the deity. As the head priest blessed the couple to live a long, happy and healthy life, the prime minister declared that they have married again here in Hindu style," the official said quoting Harper.
Dixit also gave a brief account of the temple's history and the background of the towering ornate entrance, the carved pillars, the stone ceiling and the echoing bells. Muzrai (religious and charitable endowments) Minister Kota Srinivasa Poojari and Muzrai Commissioner Dayashankar received the Harpers and the entourage. "The Harpers also went around the temple in the Hindu tradition of offering prayers and saluting the gods," the official added.
Earlier, Harper, who is on a six-day visit to India since Sunday, took time off to watch a 45-minute documentary film in English on "To The Arctic" at a multiplex in upscale Koramangala Forum mall with about 200 boys and girls from select schools of the city. Soon after state Labour Minister B.N. Bache Gowda greeted the delegation at the international airport on arrival, Harper drove to Raj Bhavan (governor's house) in the city centre for an hour-long luncheon session with Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and invited dignitaries. The 53-year-old Conservative Party leader will address and interact with about 500 students of Bishop Cotton High School on Friday before leaving for Manila in the afternoon on an official visit to the Philippines.