Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi today laid a silver brick to mark the foundation ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Modi is among the 175 people present at the ceremony. He shared 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. Keeping in mind the pandemic, seating arrangements were made in accordance with social distancing principles.
Priest at RamTemple 'Bhoomi Pujan' says, "Nine bricks are kept here which were sent by devotees of Lord Ram from around the world in 1989. There are 2 lakh 75 thousand such bricks out of which 100 bricks with 'Jai Shri Ram' engraving have been taken."
Before this, the prime minister along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had offered prayers at Hanuman Garhi. Modi also paid a visit to Ram Janmabhoomi. Ahead of the ceremony, Ayodhya has been decked up. The city has been painted yellow – an auspicious colour of knowledge and learning.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to Ayodhya after 29 years today for the "Bhoomi Pujan" or groundbreaking ceremony for a Ram temple at the site that was disputed for decades until the Supreme Court handed over ownership to Hindus last year. PM Modi, in a gold silk kurta and white dhoti, arrived by chopper to the riverside town where he will perform prayers at various sites before laying a 40-kg silver brick to mark the symbolic start of a grand temple at the spot that many believe is the birthplace of Lord Ram. The historic event showcases the triumph of one of India's longest campaigns, one that found resonance with millions in the country and abroad. Ayodhya is a riot of colours for the event that also meets a decades-long promise core to the ruling BJP's ideology.
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PM Modi, wearing a mask, first offered prayers at the Hanumangarhi temple - a shrine to Lord Hanuman. He went to Ramjanmabhoomi or the birthplace of Lord Ram to pray at the shrine to "Ram Lalla", the infant Lord Ram, before proceeding to the site of the main "Bhoomi Pujan" ceremony.
PM Modi, who in 1990 was one of the organizers of the nationwide campaign for a temple at the site where the 16th-century Babri mosque once stood, sat down for rituals before laying a silver brick to symbolize the construction of the temple.
At Hanumangarhi, PM Modi was gifted a headgear by the chief priest. Priest Raju Das said that according to legend, no work is complete without the blessings of Lord Hanuman.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Mohan Bhagwat - the chief of the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and around 170 spiritual leaders attended the ceremony. Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the temple-mosque dispute, was the first person to be invited.
BJP veterans LK Advani - who led the Ram temple movement in the 1990s - and Murli Manohar Joshi attended the event through video-conference because of coronavirus precautions. The Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, tasked with building the temple, reportedly issued a last-minute invite to the two leaders. Uma Bharti, another key BJP leader of the temple campaign, is attending the ceremony in Ayodhya after previously saying she would stay away as a coronavirus precaution.
The temple campaign marked the emergence of the BJP as a national electoral force. In the 1990s, LK Advani took out a rath yatra to pitch for a Ram temple at the site where the 16th century Babri mosque stood. On December 6, 1992, the mosque was razed by activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple that marked Lord Ram's birthplace. More than 2,000 people died in the riots that followed.
Last year, after several efforts at mediation failed, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict handing over the 2.77 acres of land claimed by both Hindus and Muslims for a Ram temple. The court ordered a five-acre plot at a different site in Ayodhya for a mosque.
Today's festivities, held at a time recommended by astrologers, are vastly curtailed because of the coronavirus battle with over 50,000 daily infections. Home Minister Amit Shah, has been hospitalized with the virus. A priest and 14 policemen on duty near the temple site have also tested positive.
Source: Various agencies