Premier Visits Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple And Pays Homage To One Of India's Greatest Leaders
Cultural Visits Precede Official Start Of Business Mission
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty launched his visit to India today by experiencing the spiritualism and heroism that help define India.
The spiritualism came in the form of a visit to the Swaminarayan Akshardham and Hindu Cultural Centre, where Premier McGuinty met with head priest Sadhu Atmaswarupdas. The current spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan movement and the creator of Swaminarayan Akshardham is His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The heroism was a reminder of the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, as Premier McGuinty laid a wreath at the resting place of the founder of the Indian state.
At the Swaminarayan Akshardham, Premier McGuinty and his wife, Terri, also performed the ritual of "abishek", a prayer for peace.
"It was a real honour to visit such a place of inspiration, especially when I know that the values that inspire so many here are the same ones that inspire Hindus in Ontario," Premier McGuinty said.
The Hindu complex, built entirely of pink stone and white marble, was built over five years with the work of 11,000 artisans and volunteers.
A monument of Indian art, architecture and heritage similar to this one is being built in Toronto. Premier McGuinty is looking forward to attending its opening in July.
Later in the day, the Premier and Mrs. McGuinty visited Raj Ghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, a simple black marble platform that marks the spot of his cremation in 1948, on the banks of the river Yamuna.
"Mahatma Gandhi is revered here, in Ontario, and around the world, for leading his people to freedom along a path of peace," Premier McGuinty said.
"And it was a privilege to honour his legacy on behalf of all Ontarians, who cherish the values he espoused, including tolerance and respect for diversity."
The Premier was accompanied here today by Economic Development and Trade Minister Sandra Pupatello, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Minister Harinder Takhar and Dr. Kuldip Kular, MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale.
"Ontario and India already have a solid relationship -- there are so many close personal ties between our two peoples -- and this mission is a great opportunity to strengthen those ties," said Kular. "I know we will return with new friendships and new partnerships that will help us build opportunity for all Ontarians."
The cultural visits are part of Ontario's business mission to India and Pakistan. More than 100 representatives of 87 Ontario companies, universities and organizations have joined Premier McGuinty and other senior government representatives.