PM gifts Saudi king gold replica of Kerala mosque

Riyadh, April 3 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, the second and final day of his bilateral visit to Saudi Arabia, gifted King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud a gold-plated replica of the Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kerala.

Situated in Thrissur district, the Cheraman Juma Masjid is believed to be the first mosque built in India by Arab traders around 629 AD, and symbolic of active trade relations between India and Saudi Arabia since ancient times, an official statement about the gift said.

According to oral tradition, Cheraman Perumal was the Chera king and a contemporary of the Holy Prophet who went to Arabia and embraced Islam after meeting the Holy Prophet at Makkah.

Some years later, he sent letters to his relatives and the ruling chieftains of Malabar through his friends Malik bin Dinar and Malik bin Habib who, along with their companions, were then given permission by the local rulers to build the mosque at Kodungallur.

The mosque has an ancient oil lamp that is always kept burning and is believed to be over a thousand years old. People from all religions bring oil for the lamp as an offering.

King Salman on Sunday received Modi and his delegation at the Royal Court here.

“A truly Royal welcome. PM @narendramodi is welcomed by His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the Palace,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted.

The Saudi monarch is hosting a lunch in honour of the visiting prime minister. This will be followed by delegation-level talks and signing of agreements.

Modi will leave for New Delhi on Sunday evening.

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