Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday gave a new name -- `Tulsi-bhai' -- to Director General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus at his request.
The Tulsi plant (`holy basil' or Ocimum tenuiflorum) has been an integral part of India's spiritual heritage, the prime minister said, speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the three-day Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit here.
Dr Ghebreyesus, who shared the dais with Modi, tried to start his speech in Gujarati.
Modi said Dr Ghebreyesus wanted a Gujarati name. ''When he met me today morning, he said he has become a 'pucca' Gujarati. He asked me to give him a Gujarati name. He reminded me on the stage, whether I had decided on a name for him. In this pious land of Mahatma Gandhi, as a Gujarati, I would call my best friend `Tulsibhai,''' the prime minister said.
The holy basil is traditionally planted in every household in India and prayers are offered to it generation after generation, Modi said.
''Tulsi is a plant which is an integral part of India's spiritual heritage,'' the prime minister said, noting that there is also Tulsi Vivah festival around the time of Diwali. The `bhai' suffix, he said, is a must for a Gujarati, Modi added.
He was especially happy calling Dr Ghebreyesus 'Tulsibhai,' and delighted by the latter's affection for Gujarat, his attempt to speak in Gujarati and his affection for the Indian teachers who taught him in childhood, the prime minister added.
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