Sporting saffron headgear and scarves, people of all ages have gathered in large numbers at an event here to mark the beginning of year-long celebrations commemorating the 200th birth anniversary of social reformer Dayanand Saraswati.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the celebrations at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium on Sunday. He also unveiled a logo for the anniversary celebrations at the event, being described as 'Gyan Jyoti Parv'.
The gathering of Saraswati's followers, most of them wearing saffron headgear and scarves bearing Vedic texts, virtually turned the stadium into a sea of saffron as chants of sacred mantras reverberated around the venue.
An exhibition on the social reformer's legacy and the institutions established guided by Saraswati's vision is also being hosted on the stadium premises.
Born in 1824, Saraswati worked to counter the social inequities prevalent at the time. Arya Samaj has played a key role in the country's cultural and social awakening with its emphasis on social reforms and education, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement on Saturday.
During a meeting in January, Modi called upon academic and cultural institutions across the country to produce well-researched work on the contributions of the great visionary and social reformer, as well as the Arya Samaj -- which will complete 150 years of existence in 2025.
Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj in 1875.
Modi, who arrived at the venue around 11 am, was welcomed on the dais by chants of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and invoking the name of Saraswati.
Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy and ministers of state for culture Meenakshi Lekhi and Arjun Ram Meghwal shared the dais with Modi and the other dignitaries.
The government has been committed to celebrating social reformers and important personalities, especially those whose contributions were not given their due yet on a pan-India scale, the PMO said in its statement on Saturday.
From declaring the birth anniversary of Birsa Muda as 'Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas' to participating in a programme commemorating Aurobindo's 150th birth anniversary, the Prime Minister has been leading these initiatives from the front, it said.