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Tony Abbott dons a turban and goes barefoot as he enjoys a traditional vegetarian meal at Amritsar's Sikh Golden Temple

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott attended the holiest site in Sikhism as part of celebrations for the 550th birthday of the religion's founder, Guru Nanak Dev.

Wearing a bright orange turban, Mr Abbott was seen barefoot at the Golden Temple in Punjab, India, as he joined a large group of men to pray. He then joined a community lunch at the temple, a free vegetarian meal served to all visitors called Langar. Afterwards the former politician was seen standing alongside a long sink, helping to wash up with devotees.

Mr Abbott, who is a devout Catholic, told reporters he was pleased to know the Sikh community were welcoming to people of all faiths. 'This is a very holy place,' he said of the temple, which is one of the oldest worship places for the Indian Sikh and an important pilgrimage destination for its followers.

Mr Abbott said in his worship at the temple, he was also paying tribute to 'all of the Sikhs and all of the Indian people who have made such a great contribution as citizens of my country'. The former PM has spoken often of his love for India, having travelled around the country in 1981.

Speaking in 2004, he told the Sydney Morning Herald India was a 'serious, fascinating, enthralling subcontinent, this world in one country'. In February 2018, while celebrating the inauguration of an Indian restaurant chain in Melbourne, he said the country was 'an emerging superpower, and will have a vast role to play globally'.

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