The city government in Moscow has agreed to allot land for the construction of a Krishna temple, ending a longstanding controversy over whether Hindus should have a place of worship in the Russian capital, The Hindu newspaper reports.
The paper quoted Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit as saying that the Moscow Mayor had assured her he would allot land for the temple. This promise was also registered in a joint statement issued at the end of Ms. Dixit’s talks with the Mayor.
In 2004 Moscow’s Hare Krishna temple was demolished under a city development plan, and the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKON), which was in charge of it, was offered another piece of land to build a temple. However, the offer was withdrawn following protests from the Russian Orthodox Church against plans to build a temple that would eclipse the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the main Orthodox church in Moscow.
ISKON later scaled down its temple plan, but it is only now that the Mayor has cleared the project.
The Chief Minister was in Moscow for a cultural festival held under a twinned-city accord between the two capitals. She described the three-day festival as “a roaring success.” Performances by vocalist Kalapini Komkali, sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, dancer Astad Deboo and others drew full houses.
The festival featured a fashion show, traditional Indian dances, a recital of poetry by Indian authors and the screening of Bollywood films. The rock band Euphoria also performed. ’Days of Moscow’ will be held in Delhi next year, ahead of a Year of Russia festival in India in 2008.
The Chief Minister held wide-ranging discussions with the Mayor of Moscow on ways to enhance trade and economic cooperation between the two capitals.
She invited Moscow to bid for a contract to supply trolley-buses to Delhi, while Moscow asked for Indian software for its metals stock exchange.
The two sides agreed to launch an educational and student exchange program, encourage tourism between the two capitals and hold an Indian fashion week in Moscow.
Delhi is seeking Moscow’s expertise in water purification and recycling, while the Russian capital is keen to learn from Delhi’s experience of becoming an international health tourism hub.
Nearly 20 executives of a Delhi-based IT company and other companies participated in an Indo-Russian business forum organized as part of the ’Days of Delhi’.
The Chief Minister identified IT, mechanical engineering, education, food processing and ecological waste recycling as priority areas for business ties between the two cities.
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