General Shankar Roy Choudhury, former chief of the Indian army, was feted by the New York Kali Mandir as it celebrated the fifth anniversary of its founding last month.
About 150 people turned up for the anniversary of the Kali Bari, the first of its kind in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area, which has become a coveted temple destination for many Bengalis from the tristate area since 2005.
Choudhury, in the United States to visit his daughter in Connecticut, was invited by the Mandir officials to grace the occasion.
"I am very happy and proud to be invited here and to be present in the temple although I did not know beforehand that expatriate Bengalis in New York area have set up such a beautiful shrine. I am really proud,' Choudhury was quoted as saying by Dilip Chakravarti, temple chairman, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
'In recognition of his patriotism,' Chakravarti told India Abroad, 'outstanding lifetime dedication and achievement in protecting India and its borders, I presented him with a plaque of honor on behalf of the temple.'
The anniversary began with a puja followed by a three-hour program during which children aged 6 to 15 performed devotional songs and dances.
"They were the centerpiece of the event as they charmed the audience with joy and happiness in a far off land," Chakravarti said.
The 4,500 square-foot facility acquired with donations has a deity imported from Kolkata. Temple officials said they were looking forward to another fundraiser to complete the temple's pending work.
Choudhury, who was introduced by Dhruba Dutta, a temple's board of trustees member, also took questions from the audience relating to India's defense preparedness vis-à-vis China and the on the issue of the Line of Control -- the de facto border with Pakistan -- in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The general said that although he does not know whether China would attack India, he is fully convinced the Indian defense forces are fully prepared to take on the challenge in case any such thing happens. On the question of the LoC, General Choudhury said he feels there is a need for a political solution to the issue," Chakravarti said.