The temple town of Ayodhya has been fortified and decked up like never before, painted all over in yellow hue, for the “bhoomi pujan” for the construction of Ram Temple at the Ram Janmabhoomi Complex. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone on Wednesday.
“The foundation stone function will start at 12.30 pm and the shila (stone) will be laid between 12.44 and 12.45 pm after offering prayers to Lord Ganesha,” Champat Rai, general secretary of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust told this reporter.
The PM will lay a 40-kg silver brick to symbolise the start of construction of the Ram Temple that is core to the ruling BJP’s ideology and poll promises. A campaign for the temple marked the rise of the party to the national spotlight in the 1990s.
Rai said that religious functions like different pujas have started. These include Ramarchan Puja, where prayers are held to invite all major gods and goddesses who consider Lord Ram as their Ishth (the god of worship). Vedic saints are conducting the prayers facing Ramlalla on his temporary seat, Rai said.
A total of 21 priests from Varanasi, Ayodhya, and Prayagraj started the ritual of Bhoomi Pujan by organising Gauri Ganesh Puja at the Bhoomi Pujan site on the Ram Janmabhoomi premises. Priests are also performing puja at the Hanumangarhi and Ram ki chavni temples and aarti at the Saryu ghat in the evening.
On Tuesday morning, Ramacharya puja along with dhawaj and Nisan puja of Lord Hanuman were performed at the Hanumangarhi temple. Except for the priests of the temples, none was allowed to attend these pujas due to Covid pandemic.
Pandit Kalikram handed over a green colour dress along with a religious flag to the head priest of the Ram Lalla temple Acharya Satendra Das, which Ram Lalla will wear on Wednesday. Ram Lalla will wear a yellow dress on Thursday
Pandit Kalikaram has been presenting the dresses for the idols for the last two years. He will also light diyas at almost all the temples of Ayodhya in the evening of August 5.
The city has been turned into a fortress with barricades put up across the main thoroughfare of Ayodhya – particularly those lanes which connect the city to Ram Janmabhoomi Complex. The jawans of the paramilitary force are deployed around the city. The shops are closed. The road side eateries have downed their shutters, but the local residents are not complaining.
“Our movements have been restricted for two days but we are not complaining. This is an indicator of good things to come. We will have our own Ram Temple after almost five centuries. And for that why will one complain,” Dilip Maurya, who owns Maurya Tea Stall near Ghantaghar, said. There is an air of festivity around Ayodhya. Religious songs or the chanting of Sunderkand wafts through the air as one drives through the empty roads of Ayodhya.
The temple town has been illuminated with lights while the Saryu ghat is lit up with earthen lamps in the evening adding sheen to the majestic grandeur of the city.
People rue that because of the Covid pandemic the festivity is at low key. “Had this function been held on normal days all these roads would have been chock-a-block with people. Millions of people would have come to Ayodhya to witness this historic event,” Pandit Hari Mohan, of Nageshwar Nath Temple said.
The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, which is the main organiser, has sent invitations to just 175 people. The Prime Minister is among the 175 people who will be present at the ceremony. He will share the dais with just four other people – RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, trust chief Nritya Gopaldas Maharaj, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and CM Yogi Adityanath. In keeping with Covid-19 norms, seating arrangements have been made in a way that all invitees will sit at a distance of six feet.
Champat Rai said that the invitees include 135 religious leaders from 36 spiritual traditions across the country.
Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the decades-old temple-mosque dispute, was the first person to be invited. “I will certainly attend it. The dispute is over now after the court verdict,” Ansari said.
His father Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the case, died in 2016.
The Ram Temple will be built after years of dispute over the 2.77 acre site where the 16th century Babri mosque stood before it was razed in 1992 by Hindu activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram.
In November, the Supreme Court said the site would be handed over for the building of a temple and an alternative five-acre site would be given to Muslims.
Wednesday, 05 August 2020 | Biswajeet Banerjee | Ayodhya
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