Kovind’s visit to the historic Shree Mahalasa Narayani Devalaya at Verna was scheduled at 5.40pm, his last stop before flying out of Goa from the Dabolim airport.
After landing by a helicopter at Vasco, the President and the First Lady were driven to the temple.
His schedule was not allowed to interfere with the marriage ceremony at the temple hall in the same premises, though located at some distance, despite the heavy security checks. Just as Kovind arrived at the temple, the married couple, as per rituals, happened to reach the deity to seek its blessings.
“The marriage hall is located at some distance, and so it was not thought necessary despite the heavy security checks to disturb the planned marriage ceremony, which began in the morning on Sunday. The President arrived sharp at the scheduled time. The couple happened to enter at the same time to seek the deity’s blessings. He was not only cordial with them, he blessed the couple and posed for photographs with them,” said a witness to the events.
“It is not often that the venue of a wedding in a temple coincides with the itinerary of the President at the same time and day. But this is what happened when President Kovind visited the Mahalasa Temple, Goa, today. He blessed the newlyweds, making it all the more memorable,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted.
The couple has been identified as Aishwarya Narvekar and Deepesh Sawant. Along with the President and the First Lady, the couple got to pose in a rare frame which also included Goa and Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and chief minister Pramod Sawant and wife Sulakshana.
This was even more fortunate for the couple as no visitors were allowed to the temple due to the tight security protocol, further heightened due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
In January this year, Ohio-based Ashley Hall had her Indian wedding planned at a five-star hotel in Kerala, but she was informed 48 hours before that the wedding venue would have to be changed as the President was set to visit the hotel.
A dejected Hall tweeted to the Rashrapati Bhavan appealing for help, and, to her surprise, she not only received the nod to go ahead with the ceremony as planned, but the highest office in the country conveyed Kovind’s wishes to the couple.
“The President spent 20 to 25 minutes at the temple. He prayed to the deity and visited all deities in the premises. He also offered aarti and his deep devotion was (there) for all to see. The temple has a rich history, because of which the President made it a point to visit before ending his (Goa) visit, and we are grateful for it,” said Suhas Vernekar, secretary of the temple committee.
President of the devasthan committee Kamalaksha Naik, along with former Goa speaker Rajendra Arlekar narrated the temple’s history to the President.
“An image of the temple and a gold coin on which kantha abhishek was performed was also presented to the President, while we also had the honour of presenting a saree from the temple to the First Lady,” said Vernekar.
“We are sure the President’s aim was to draw attention to the great history of this temple through his visit, and we hope that more and more will come here now to seek the blessings of the deity,” he said.