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Modi prays at Bodh Gaya

Patna: Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bodh Gaya on Saturday and prayed at the Mahabodhi temple, Buddhism’s holiest shrine, an official said.

“Soon after arriving at Gaya airport , Modi went straight to the 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi temple, where he offered prayers,” Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee secretary N. Dorjee said.

After offering prayers, Modi circumambulated the Mahabodhi tree under which Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment 2,550 years ago.

The prime minister is in Body Gaya to attend the concluding ceremony of a three-day international Buddhist conclave.

Modi was received by Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and Food Minister Minister Shyam Razak at Gaya airport.

This is Modi’s first visit as prime minister to Bodh Gaya, a holy place for Buddhists, about 110 km from here.

Dorjee said Modi will attend the ceremony in the temple premises as will the heads of delegations of 90 countries, including former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga and the foreign ministers of Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Taiwan.

Modi will address monks and religious heads of several countries, attend a special prayer and visit a photo exhibition on the Buddhist heritage and the holy relics of Lord Buddha at the Mahabodhi Society of India.

According to police officials, Bodh Gaya has been turned into a fortress and a 16-member Special Protection Group (SPG) team has been monitoring the security arrangements.