Prime Minister Modi on Thursday greeted the people of West Bengal, wishing them on the occasion of Durga Puja. Beginning his address in Bengali, PM Modi shared his puja greetings and appealed to the people to adhere to social distancing norms and wear face masks while taking part in the festivities.
Modi kicked off the five day celebration with a virtual inauguration of a Durga Puja pandal in the Salt Lake area on Kolkata. His speech was preceeded with a cultural program. However, what has social media abuzz is the fact that the Prime Minister had begun his address in Bengali, wryly admitting that his pronunciation might not be the best. "But I could not stop myself from talking in Bangla," he said, adding that the language had a certain sweetness to it.
The Prime Minister had broken out into Bengali on several occasions throughout his speech, as as such we have included the entire speech here as well as a separate snippet. If you feel the urge to skip ahead, note that he had begun and ended his address with a smattering of Bengali.
Since then, videos of his words in Bengali have gone viral. And while there are always critics, Twitter for the most part, seems to be impressed with the effort.
Take a look at the comments:
Reaching out to the people of West Bengal during the state's biggest festival, the prime minister said though Durga Puja was being celebrated on a limited scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the "enthusiasm is still unlimited". Noting that Goddess Durga was worshipped as a symbol of 'Shakti' (strength), Modi said his government was consistently working for the empowerment of women.
In Bengal, Goddess Durga was also worshipped as a daughter, he said, adding women must be treated with respect.
The prime minister's remark came in the backdrop of a string of incidents of rape and murder of women, including the Hathras incident that shocked the nation and triggered outrage against the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. The prime minister recalled the contributions of reformers from Bengal like Ram Mohun Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, spiritual leaders Ramkrishna Paramhans and Swami Vivekananda, cultural giant Rabindranath Tagore, and revolutionaries like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Khudiram Bose in shaping India's national identity.
Durga Puja, he said, was the epitome of pluralism and reflected the collective strength of India.
(With inputs from agencies)