NEW DELHI — World leaders walked barefoot through puddles Sunday to pay tribute to revered Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi after monsoon rains dampened Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s G20 agenda .
Modi welcomed his guests to the site, where the apostle of non-violence was cremated in 1948 after being shot dead by a Hindu nationalist ideologue.
US President Joe Biden is among several visiting heads of state to opt for felt slippers rather than going shoeless around the venue, where normal footwear is banned as a sign of respect.
Others, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron, joined Modi in shedding their socks and shoes as they walked to the marble plinth where an eternal flame commemorates Gandhi’s memory.
After performing a Hindu devotional hymn, they observed a moment of silence before laying wreaths to honor the peace icon.
The prime minister is heavily invested in the success of this year’s G20 summit, which he has used to burnish his image as an international statesman ahead of next year’s national elections.
Images of Modi have adorned billboards and bus stops across the country to tout the coming together of the world’s largest economies as a moment of national triumph.
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