In a visit full of symbolism ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, on Thursday, scheduled to pay tribute to 15th century mystic poet Kabir at his final resting place in Sant Kabir Nagar on his 500th death anniversary.
Mr. Modi will offer floral tributes at the Sant Kabir ‘samadhi’ in Maghar and also offer a ceremonial ‘chadar’ at the mazaar (shrine) built there in the name of the poet who is revered across communities.
The PM will also address a public meeting after participating in a cultural programme.
Maghar, in Sant Kabir Nagar district, is located barely 30 km from the major Purvanchal centre of Gorakhpur, which is also the political turf of the current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath.
Mr. Modi’s itinerary also involves a visit to the “Sadhana” cave of Sant Kabir.
In Maghar, Mr. Modi will unveil a plaque to mark the laying of the foundation stone of the Sant Kabir Academy, which will highlight the poet-saint’s teachings and thoughts, the PMO said in a statement.
The Uttar Pradesh government has alloted a budget of ₹2.5 crore for the Sant Kabir Academy.
On Wednesday, the State cabinet approved the memorandum of association required for executing the project under the Society Registration Act 1860.
The Sant Kabir Academy is coming up to provide international-level research, publications and presentations on the life and “darshan” of the poet, the state government said.
A Sant Kabir Library will also come up, storing all creative works of Kabir, research references and publications related to him.
Mr. Adityanath, who himself oversaw the preparation for the event, said the world today needs to remember the message of “friendship, equality, peace and cordiality,” given by Kabir 500 years ago.
Meanwhile, a flutter was created after footage by television channels showed him refusing to wear a ceremonial Muslim cap at the shrine of Kabir.
According to the district website of Sant Kabir Nagar, named after the poet, he died in Maghar in 1518.
“He [Kabir] was loved equally by Muslims and Hindus, and on his death both a mazaar (tomb) and samadhi were built by the Muslims and Hindus respectively…Kabir chose Maghar above Kashi because as an enlightened soul he wanted to dispel the myth that anyone breathing his last in Maghar is born a donkey in his next life,” said the district website.
An annual festival is held at the site each year on January 14 coinciding with Makar Sankranti.
The official portal of the UP tourism department also adds that “it is said that when Saint Kabir died there was a confusion if he should receive a Muslim burial or a Hindu cremation because his religion was not known.”
Legend has it that the body of the great saint disappeared leaving behind a heap of flowers which were divided among people from both the communities. The Hindus cremated them and built a temple over it and right next to it the Muslims buried those flowers and built a Maqbara, the tourism department said.