Draped in an elegant saree, South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook soaked in Diwali festivities in Ayodhya much to the delight of the people of this pilgrim town.
From the moment she arrived in Ayodhya on Tuesday till she departed, local people, especially the youth, applauded and cheered her at the multiple events she attended, along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
She flew in a special chopper from Lucknow, and as it landed near the Ram Kath Park venue around 2:30 pm, a group of people clapped and chanted 'Jai Shri Ram'.
She began her Ayodhya tour by offering tributes at the Queen Heo Memorial.
Accompanied by Adityanath, she attended a ground-breaking ceremony for the upgrade and beautification of the memorial dedicated to the legendary princess of Ayodhya who went to Korea and married a king there in 48 AD.
From there, she went to attend festivities at the Ram Katha Park, where she was greeted by artists donning the avatar of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita, who arrived at the park in a ceremonial chopper as part of the "Ram Durbar".
Kim garlanded "Sita" as they got off the helicopter and state Governor Ram Naik and Adityanath welcomed "Lord Ram" and "Laxman".
At the venue, where a huge stage in traditional Indian architectural style was erected, she arrived wearing an elegant green saree and greeted the people on dais and in the crowd with folded hands, sending people into raptures.
In her address at the park, she recalled the historic ties between India and Korea and said she prayed for prosperity of both the countries, as they move towards a future of peace and prosperity together.
In her speech, she also mentioned Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, and said, "There is an Indian adage that sharing happiness multiples it. I am very happy to celebrate Diwali with in Ayodhya with all of you."
Later in the evening, she was treated to a dazzling display of over three lakh earthen lamps on the ghats of the Saryu river, besides a spectacular sound and light show.
"Darkness cannot defeat light and if we all light up lamps together, we can remove any darkness," she said in Korean at the Ram Katha Park event. She also performed a ceremonial 'aarti'.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday expressed delight that she wore a saree and also tweeted pictures of her from the event.
"It is a matter of immense joy and pride that Mrs. Kim Jung-sook, First Lady of the Republic of Korea visited Ayodhya and also wore traditional Indian clothing. The people of India deeply appreciate this gesture," he tweeted.
Kim, in her speech at the park, thanked Modi for inviting her to India.
"Ayodhya and South Korea have an ancient link. This link forms the cornerstone of historical and civilisational bonds between India and the Republic of Korea," Modi also tweeted.
Local resident Deepak Pandey, who attended the 'Deepotsav' event, said, "I felt very happy that she celebrated our culture and heritage, be it the saree or the 'aarti' on ghats. It was also delightful to see Koreans coming in such a large number for Diwali."
Kim's stand-alone visit to India, which began on November 4, has rekindled interest in the legendary princess who married a Korean king.
According to Korean legend, the Princess of Ayodhya went to Korea in 48 AD and married King Kim-Suro.
A large number of Koreans trace their ancestry to this legendary princess, who is known as Queen Heo Hwang-ok.
A visit to Taj Mahal in Agra on Wednesday is the last stop in Kim's itinerary before she flies back to Seoul.