President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday released commemorative coins in denominations of ₹10 and ₹1000 on Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebar festival.
The President, who is visiting Odisha, released the coins during the centenary celebration of Rastriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Puri.
Addressing a function held on the occasion, Mr. Kovind described the pilgrim town of Puri as the ‘Vidya Nagri’ (education hub) for its connection with knowledge and science since ancient times.
He said Puri was one of the four ‘dhams’ for Hindus, where the saints and spiritual leaders like Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanuj, Chaitanya and Guru Nanak visited and established their mutts to be in services of Lord Jagannath.
Puri is also called the ‘Kashi’ of eastern region in India. Adi Shankaracharya chose Puri to establish his ‘peeth’.
This is the place where Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya and Nimbarkacharya had visited. It is told that Guru Nanak, Santh Kabir and Chaityanya Mahaprabhu also made their visits to Puri.
Puri is the integrated place of various thoughts and schools of religion, Mr. Kovind said.
Stating that Lord Jagannath temple is the centre for art and culture, the President said the Lord’s Rath Yatra has a significant place in the hearts of Indians.
“I am impressed with the tradition of Rath Yatra when Lord Jagannath comes out of temple for devotees. All the devotees, irrespective of caste and religion, witness and participate in the event. This festival strengthens equality, peace, goodwill, progress and values of universal brotherhood.
“It also describes the value of labour and significance of creator as Gajapati Maharaja used to sweep the chariots during the festival,” he said.
While acknowledging the significance of Sanskrit, Mr. Kovind said even Adi Shankaracharya, who belonged to Kerala and whose mother tongue was Malayalam, learned Sanskrit and established four peeths in Uttarakhand, Puri, Dwarka and Rameswaram at four dhams in the country.
The President said that his father had visited Puri Temple on October 9, 1947, when he was around 8-9 years old.
“I am fortunate to visit here and had darshan of Lord Jagannath in Puri where my father had visited in 1947,” he said.
First Lady Savita Kovind, Odisha Governor S.C. Jamir, Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Jual Oram, Odisha Higher Education Minister Ananta Das, Puri King Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb and others were present during the ceremony.
Earlier in the day, the President visited the 12th century Lord Jagannath shrine in Puri.