A spectacular shobayatra was big attraction for devotees 

Delhi/Lucknow, : The wait for the Goddess Annapurna’s idol, which went missing from Kashi and was smuggled more than a century ago and was one of the prized possessions of MacKenzie Art Gallery at the University of Regina, Canada, was finally over on Thursday as it was handed over to the Uttar Pradesh Government during a colourful event amid cheering crowd of devotees in New Delhi. 

Union Minister for Culture and Tourism G Kishan Reddy presented the idol to Suresh Rana, minister in the Yogi Adityanath Government. Minister of Women and Child Development  Smriti Irani and Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi in the Union Cabinet were among the host of dignitaries who attended the event and offered prayers to the Goddess of food. 

The event was followed by taking out of a grand procession (shobhayatra) carrying the idol of Goddess Annapurna, which had brief stopovers at Mohan Mandir in Ghaziabad and at Dadrinagar Shiv Mandir in Gautam Buddha Nagar where jubilant devotees received it with great enthusiasm and offered their prayers. 

The shobhayatra then proceeded to Bulandshahar from where it will go to Aligarh, Hathras and Kasganj and after an overnight stop it will move onwards to Eta, Mainpuri, Kannauj and Kanpur where it will stay for the night. After touring Unnao, Lucknow, Barabanki, Ayodhya, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh and Jaunpur it will reach Varanasi on November 14. The idol will be installed at the Kashi Vishwanath temple amid chanting of Vedic hymns at a formal ceremony on the occasion of Devotthan Ekadashi on November 15.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced about the  homecoming of the idol from Canada following an agreement with the Canadian Government in this regard during his one of Mann ki Baat sessions last year. 

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recently thanked the PM for bringing back the precious idol and for his relentless efforts to bring about a cultural renaissance in the country

The Union Minister for Culture and Tourism G. Kishan Reddy had recently said that as many as 42 rare  idols and antiquities have been returned to the country by different countries during the tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whereas from 1976 to 2013, only 13 rare works of art could be brought back.