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'Little India' in Malaysia preparing for Modi visit

November 20, 2015 03:19 IST

An intricately carved gateway, built at a cost of over $1 million and representing hundreds of years of Buddhist and Islamic art forms in India, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 'Little India' in Kuala Lumpur during his visit to Malaysia this week.

The prime minister, who will be in Kuala Lumpur on November 21 to attend the Asean-India and East Asia summit, will inaugurate the Torana (gateway), on Monday.

Thousands of people are expected to throng Brickfields -- a suburb in the Malaysian capital here, popularly known as ' 'Little India' -- to witness the opening of the massive gateway, which is estimated to cost about 5 million Malaysian Ringgit (Rs 7.8 crore or $1.1 million) to build.

The suburb, largely dominated by ethnic Indians, is all spruced up and freshly painted for the visit.

The main thoroughfare in Brickfields could be a street from anywhere in Tamil Nadu.

Most of the shops here sell Tamil film music, Indian groceries, clothes, saris and idols of Hindu deities.

Malaysia's Deputy Federal Territories Minister Loga Bala Mohan said: "We have started to clean and beautify the area. Notices were issued to the owners to paint their buildings to give them a fresh look."

The Torana Gate is a gift from India to mark the launch of Kuala Lumpur's Litte India project as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.

The project was delayed due to the need to conform the architectural design and features of the massive stone pillar.

The intricately carved Torana, inspired by the Toranas of the great Buddhist sculpture of Sanchi, has carvings and relief work representing ancient Indian art as well as the Islamic art form.

Kshitij Jain, the chief designer and architect of the Torana, said, "Toranas, built by the great Mauryan dynasty ruler, Ashoka, in first century BC, essentially depict symbols related to Buddhism.

"There is the Bodhi Tree, the lotus flowers, the jatakas tales and many other such illustrations, but we did not just replicate them as it would not match the inclusivity and acceptance that India stands for.

"Such detailing on an art form of this scale, involving the two disparate cultures, has perhaps not been done before."

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic Muslim majority country.

Besides the majority population of Muslim Malays, the country also has ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indian population.

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