The idol was made by an artist from Odisha (photo: IBNLive)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that he is shocked and disappointed at news of a ‘Modi temple’ being inaugurated in Kotharia village in Gujarat's Rajkot district. He tweeted that it was against Indian traditions and that building temples is “not what our culture teaches us.”
“Personally, it made me very sad. Would urge those doing it not to do it. If you have time and resources, please devote the same towards fulfilling our dream of a Clean India,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.
The temple has been built by local BJP supporters who collected around Rs 4.5 lakh ($720,000) to fund it. According to the Indian Express, a life-size marble idol of Modi worth Rs 1.7 lakh ($2,700), complete with his trademark half sleeve kurta and jacket, has been installed in the temple’s sanctum.
Before they got the idol made by an artist from Odisha, they used to offer prayers before a photo of Modi, some villagers said.
Maganbhai Patel, a local villager and builder, told the Hindustan Times that the village panchayat had given 350 square yards to build a temple to ‘Mother India’ a decade ago. After Modi became prime minister, the villagers decided to convert the 'Mother India' temple into a 'Modi temple'.
Local BJP leaders said they expect to inaugurate the temple this Sunday, and have invited Rajkot MP and central minister Mohan Kundariya and Gujarat state minister Vijay Rupani to attend the ceremony.
However, following Modi’s own reaction to the news, Rupani reportedly said he had other engagements on day and would not be able to attend.
This is not the first ‘Modi temple’ in India. His idol was installed in a 300-year-old Shiva temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Kaushambi district in January 2014. Known earlier as Shiv Mandir, the temple is now called 'Namo-Namo Mandir'.
The prime minister is clearly keen on avoiding another public relations disaster so soon after he wore an expensive suit with ‘Narendra Damodardas Modi’ embroidered on it when hosting U.S. President Barack Obama last month. Reportedly costing Rs. 10 lakh ($16,000), the vanity suit turned many people off and may have even contributed to the scale of his party’s defeat in the Delhi assembly election.