Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday began his two-day trip to Iran with a visit to the capital city’s only functioning gurudwara where he paid obeisance.
Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Iran in 15 years, offered prayers at the Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha Gurudwara and also spoke to the head priest.
He applauded the efforts of the Sikh community in the Persian Gulf nation for preserving and spreading the culture and tradition of India.
“My Iran visit is starting with the blessings before the Guru Granth Sahib at this gurudwara. I am fortunate. I greet you all for having worked on spreading our culture and tradition as well as educating our young generation here.
“We accept all the people as our own and absorb them in our society because we believe in the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ — the entire world is one family. Animated by this spirit, we Indians make every country our home,” Modi told the gathering at the gurudwara.
Addressing the community in Tehran, Modi said, “We are fortunate to have got an opportunity to celebrate the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh. The government is planning to celebrate this occasion in India and other parts of the world.”
He stressed that the young generation should know about the sacrifices of the great Gurus and also learn from the central tenets of the Guru Granth Sahib.
“I have noted several suggestions that have come from your community. I have considered them and I believe that solutions need to be explored through talks. And we will continue this exercise. Let us all work together to serve humanity,” he added.
Earlier just after reaching Tehran, Modi tweeted, “Reached Iran, a land with whom India shares civilisational ties. Hope to enhance economic partnership between our nations. I also hope my Iran visit further cements cultural and people-to-people ties between India and Iran.”
In 2012, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a visit to Tehran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit could not visit the gurudwara, but his wife Gursharan Kaur paid her respects there.
Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan during his visit to Iran last month also visited the gurudwara.
The gurudwara in Tehran’s Mesjed Henidyah was founded in 1941 by Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha Tehran. There are about 800 Sikh families in Tehran, mostly traders who had moved in early 20th century from Punjab.
Most of the visiting dignitaries from India — from the then Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar in 2005 to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj — have all visited the gurudwara on their visits to Tehran.