Ayodhya, 22nd January 2024: In a historic moment, Ayodhya witnessed the consecration ceremony of Shri Ram’s temple today, culminating years of dedication and struggle. Eminent figures from sports, entertainment, business and politics marked the occasion’s significance in India’s history. The Ayodhya site, revered by Hindus as Lord Ram’s birthplace and significant for Muslims due to the former Babri Mosque, experienced this momentous event. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pivotal role has sparked debates, with some viewing it as the start of his re-election campaign and others as a political manoeuvre. Concerns about its impact on India’s secular ethos have been voiced, suggesting it may overshadow contentious historical events and deepen societal divides.
Ram Temple: Ancient Justice Revived
The construction of the Ram temple is hailed as a resurgence of ancient justice and pluralism, challenging historical religious oppression. The legal resolution of the Ayodhya controversy is seen as an embodiment of enlightened Hindu principles, marking a triumph of morality. The temple’s establishment is portrayed as a testament to India’s tolerant and just society, promoting unity across religious lines. Advocating for national harmony, it calls on all Indians, regardless of faith, to embrace a shared identity rooted in moral values embodied by Shri Ram. This collective affirmation aims to foster a cohesive and tolerant India, countering religious compulsion and division.
Sacred Moment in Ayodhya
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath inspected Ayodhya’s preparations for the Ram Temple consecration, meeting RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi engaged with ‘Shramjeevis,’ overseeing temple construction, and visited the restored Shiv temple at Kuber Tila. Indian Military aircraft showered flowers during the ‘aarti.’ Acharya Laxmikant Dixit led the consecration ceremony with 121 priests. Guests, including PM Modi, from diverse fields had ‘Darshan’ of Ram Lalla. Evening ‘Deepavali’ celebrations illuminated Ayodhya’s ghats, coinciding with the arrival of 5 lakh 50gm laddus from Madhya Pradesh’s Mahakaleshwar temple for devotee distribution.
Leading the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ rituals at Ayodhya’s Ram Temple, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared on Social Media platform X, stating, “The sacred moment of consecrating Shri Ram Lalla’s life in Ayodhya Dham is profoundly moving. It is my immense pleasure to be part of this divine program. Jai Siyaram!” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath presented a replica of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat during the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ ceremony, where both leaders joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir Timeline
The timeline of Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir spans from 1528 to 2024, marked by significant events shaping the contentious history of the site. Beginning in 1528, Babur’s general Mir Baqi demolished a temple, giving way to the construction of the Babri Mosque. In 1853, religious violence erupted during Nawab Wajid Shah’s rule, escalating in 1885 when Britishers partitioned the site. Legal disputes arose in 1949 when Ram Lalla idols surfaced in the mosque, intensifying further in 1961 as petitions sought property restoration for Muslims.
The 1980s witnessed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) campaign for a Ram Temple, leading to an Ayodhya District Court allowing Hindu worship in the mosque in 1986. The temple’s foundation was laid by the VHP in 1989, triggering legal battles. The 1990 Rath Yatra by BJP’s LK Advani supported temple agitation, culminating in the mosque’s demolition in 1992 and subsequent nationwide riots. Godhra train fire in 2002 led to Gujarat riots, and in 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the disputed land transfer for the Ram Temple. On August 5, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone, marking a historic moment in India’s religious and political landscape.
Commitment to Tradition: Monumental Significance
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s involvement in the consecration ceremony signifies the political and cultural significance. The temple’s design, construction details, and commitment to traditional practices highlight its monumental cultural and environmental significance. With an estimated expenditure of ₹1,800 crore, the mega event draws global attention. Security measures, including 13 thousand deployed personnel, ensured a safe ceremony in Ayodhya.
Distinguished Gathering of Notable Dignitaries
Dignitaries who attended the Ayodhya Ram Mandir Ceremony included notable political figures such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, former Presidents of India Ram Nath Kovind and Pratibha Patil, former Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, and former Speakers Meira Kumar and Sumitra Mahajan. Industrialists Mukesh and Nita Ambani, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, Nusli Wadia, Gautam Adani, and Ajay Piramal were also part of the distinguished guests.
Anil Agarwal, Rekha Jhunjhunwala, Adi Godrej, L&T Chairman AM Naik, Sudha Murthy, Sunil Mittal, and sports personalities Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, K Sivan, Ravindra Jadeja, P.T. Usha, Sunil Gavaskar, and Saina Nehwal, along with “Metroman” E. Sreedharan, were present. Invited Film Industry Celebrities included Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan, Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor, Rajinikanth, Hema Malini, and Asha Bhosle. Renowned figures like Usha Mangeshkar, Ramayana Fame Arun Govil, Prasoon Joshi, Shankar Mahadevan, Sonu Nigam, Subhash Ghai, and Anuradha Paudwal were also on the guest list. Former Chief of Army Staff Manoj Mukund Naravane, Ram temple architect Chandrakant Bhai Sompura, and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad were among the other significant attendees.
Opposition’s Political Maneuvers
In the INDIA bloc, opposition parties deftly navigated a political minefield by abstaining from the Ram Mandir consecration ceremony in Ayodhya on Monday. The BJP strategically framed their absence as Congress, Samajwadi Party, and NCP leaders declined invitations. Rahul Gandhi faced restrictions in Assam amid alleged pressure from the BJP-led Assam government. AAP organized Shobha Yatras in Delhi, while TMC’s Mamata Banerjee led an all-faith rally in Kolkata.
Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena visited the Kalaram temple in Nashik, and Akhilesh Yadav paid tribute in Lucknow. JD(U) marked Karpoori Thakur’s birth anniversary. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the Tamil Nadu government of banning live telecasts of Ram Mandir events on January 22, alleging state-managed temples barred puja for Lord Ram. Tamil Nadu dismissed the claims as false, citing ulterior motives, triggering a response from the state’s Hindu Religious Minister, P K Sekar Babu, who labelled them as completely false and driven by ulterior motives.
The consecration of Ayodhya’s Ram Temple is a historic moment celebrated for its cultural and religious significance. Amidst the joy, complex discussions emerge, intertwining politics, history, and faith in India. Beyond religious impact, debates explore power dynamics and historical narratives, revealing the intricate layers of India’s societal narrative.