The grand ceremony of Bhoomi Pujan of Ram Temple will be started today with much fervour and enthusiasm amid the coronavirus outbreak. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the ceremony along with other dignitaries. The temple town has been lit up in resplendent purple and green.
Here are some key points of the Ayodhya Ceremony:
- PM Modi will fly from Delhi to Lucknow this morning, from where he will take a chopper to Ayodhya. After a brief ceremony at the Hanumangarhi temple – a shrine to Lord Hanuman- he will proceed to the makeshift temple to Ram Lalla and then to the site.
- A 40-kg silver brick, which will symbolize the beginning of the construction – is at the heart of today’s ceremonies. Images released on Tuesday showed the proposed temple will be a grand three-storey stone structure with multiple turrets, pillars, and domes. The temple will be 161 feet tall and almost double the size of what was originally planned, its architect said.
- Besides PM Modi, 50 VIPs including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Mohan Bhagwat – the chief of the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — will attend the ceremony. Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the decades-old temple-mosque dispute, was the first person to be invited by the Trust.
- Party veterans LK Advani – once the face of the temple movement — will attend through video-conference in view of the coronavirus situation. The decision came after the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, tasked with building the temple, issued a last-minute invite to him and Murli Manohar Joshi. Mr Joshi will also use a video link.
- Uma Bharati, the Union minister who was also a key part of the temple movement, is in Ayodhya but will not be present at the site of the ceremony. She is camping out at the banks of the Saryu river and said will go to the site once the programme is over.
- Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, whose Shiv Sena broke had also supported the temple movement, has not been invited. The Sena broke its 35-year alliance with the BJP after last year’s Assembly elections. The party had demanded an invitation, saying it had given “blood and sweat” for the temple.
- The Congress has not been issued an invite either. On Tuesday, the party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi tweeted to say that Lord Ram is with everyone, and expressed hope that today’s ceremony will become an occasion for “national unity, fraternity and cultural congregation”. Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh have welcomed the construction of the temple.
- The temple movement took centre stage among the issues championed by the BJP with Mr Advani’s rath yatras in the 1990s. On December 6, 1992, kar sevaks razed a 16th Century mosque — believed to have been built by Mughal Emperor Babar – standing at the site, claiming it was built after pulling down a temple that marked the spot where the Lord Ram was born. More than 2,000 people died in the violence that followed.