Antananarivo [Madgascar]: A grand Hindu temple was inaugurated on Tuesday in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, a very large island located in the Indian Ocean with a population of over 26 million.
Devotees poured in at the opening ceremony of the temple which witnessed unveiling of statues of various Hindu deities, aarti and the singing of devotional songs.
Indian Ambassador to Madagascar and Comoros Abhay Kumar graced the occasion, local media reported.
The newly-built temple is the first Hindu temple in Antananarivo. The long-awaited temple by the Hindu diaspora in Madagascar was under construction for a long period.
Speaking on the occasion, president of the Hindu Samaj Sanjeev Hematlal said that the opening of the grand temple is a matter of great pride today for the Hindu community in Madagascar.
There are over 20,000 people of Indian origin, mostly from Gujarat, who are settled in Madagascar.
Many of them are followers of the Hindu religion and it is for the first time that a grand Hindu temple has been built in Antananarivo by the Hindu Samaj. The other major cities of Madagascar such as Mahajunga and Antsiranana, however, do have small Hindu temples.
Gujarati diaspora in Madagascar is spread all across the country. The new temple will help them to get together more often and strengthen the spirit of the community.
Earlier, on the occasion of Navratri in 2020, a grand Hindu temple hall was inaugurated in Antananarivo.
Indians arrived in Madagascar in the late 18th century, mostly from Gujarat, in small boats to engage in Indian ocean trade and since then have greatly contributed to the development of trade and commerce in Madagascar and also between India and Madagascar.
India is a key trade partner of Madagascar with bilateral trade reaching about 400 million USD in 2020-21.
The ties between the two Indian Ocean neighbours are growing in all spheres. The two countries share healthy and strong ties which are on an upswing and several MoUs in key areas such as health, education, culture, information, and travel have been signed between the two countries. (ANI)