Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performed “Shastra Puja” on Dussehra today in Sikkim near Nathula.

New Delhi:

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, accompanied by officers and jawans of the Indian army, performed the “Shastra Puja” – the customary worship of weapons – at Sikkim’s Sherathang, less than 2 km from the Line of Actual Control or the LAC, on the occasion of Dussehra today.

Rajnath Singh worshiped weapons, equipment and armoured vehicles as a priest chanted prayers in Sanskrit. The priest ended the ceremony with prayers for “safety of India’s borders”.

The “Shastra Puja” near India’s border comes amid the standoff with China in eastern Ladakh. A tense confrontation between Indian and Chinese soldiers also took place in north Sikkim in early May.

Earlier in the morning, the minister had extended Dussehra greetings on Twitter. “Best wishes to all the countrymen on the festival of Vijayadashami. On this auspicious occasion today, I will visit the Nathula area of Sikkim and meet the soldiers of the Indian Army and will also be present in the arms worship ceremony,” he wrote.

The Defence Minister is on a two-day visit to West Bengal and Sikkim to review the preparedness of the forces. He is accompanied by army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.

On Saturday, the Defence Minister and the army chief were briefed in detail about the situation along the de-facto border in Sikkim sector.

The army has significantly strengthened its troops and weaponry along the nearly 3,500 km-long de-facto border with China, including Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sectors given that tension in Ladakh has shown no sign of easing.

In an interaction with army personnel, the Defence Minister conveyed his wishes to them on the occasion of Dussehra and praised their dedication in securing the borders.

“India always wants good relations with all its neighbouring countries, we have always made an effort for the same. But our jawans have had to sacrifice their lives from time to time to protect our borders, integrity and universality… The nation and its boundaries are secure due to you,” he had said on Saturday.

Mr Singh has been performing Shastra Puja on Dussehra for the last several years including during his tenure as the Union Home Minister in the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

Last year, the defence minister had performed the Shastra Puja in the French port city of Bordeaux during a visit to the country to formally receive the Rafale fighter jets.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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