Lauding the efforts of Tamil tea plantation workers in making Sri Lanka third largest exporter of tea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday recalled his days as a tea seller to connect with the Tamil community there.
"You and I have something in common, as some you may have heard, I have special association with tea," he said in his address to Indian origin Tamil community at Norwood Grounds in Dickoya, Sri Lanka.
As a child, Modi helped his father sell tea at the Vadnagar railway station, and later ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus.
He said forefathers of the current Tamil population in Sri Lanka undertook a courageous journey from India to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He remebered them and described them as "Men and women of strong will and courage".
Modi assured them that India would support Sri Lanka's efforts towards socio-economic development of Lankan Tamils.
The Prime Minister earlier inaugurated a multi-specialty hospital built with Indian aid at Dickoya in the central Sri Lankan hill district of Nuwara Eliya. The area where the hospital is located is home to a large number of Indian-origin Tamil tea plantation workers.
The 150-bed hospital was constructed with Indian aid of Rs.50 crore under India's developmental aid to Sri Lanka.
Later in the day, Modi will also pray at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic at Kandy in central Sri Lanka. The golden-roofed Kandy temple houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic -- a tooth of Lord Buddha.
PM Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, earlier on Friday attended International Vesak Day celebrations, which marks the birth of Gautama Buddha.
Modi arrived in Colombo on Thursday where he was recieved by his Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe.