Prime Minister Narendra Modi will return to Ayodhya after 29 years today for the 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 will lay a 40 kg silver brick to mark the symbolic start of a grand temple at what many believe is the birthplace of Lord Ram. Images released on Monday of the temple design showed a grand three-storey stone structure with multiple turrets, pillars and domes. The temple will be 161 feet tall.
Construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya will begin with the grand bhoomi pujan ceremony on Wednesday amid much fanfare and elaborate arrangements that were on for months ahead of the ceremony. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the grand rituals in Ayodhya and will fly be flying down from Delhi to Lucknow and then Ayodhya.
Security has been tightened across Ayodhya with all entry points into the temple town being blocked in to prevent any untoward incidents during the bhoomi pujan ceremony.
Key facts on Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan today:
1. Sri Gaddinsheen Premdas ji Maharaj, head priest at Hanumangarhi temple, where PM Modi will first offer prayers upon landing in Ayodhya, said, “PM’s visit to Ayodhya is a proud moment. We will honour him with a headgear, a silver crown and a stole with the name of Lord Ram printed on it. We also hope that he rings the 3.5 quintal bell and proceeds towards Ram Janmabhoomi.”
2. Prime Minister Modi is expected to land in Ayodhya around noon and reach the Ram Janmabhoomi Sthal for the bhoomi pujan ceremony around 12.40 pm. PM Modi will spend over an hour at the bhoomi pujan ceremony and leave around 2 pm.
3. The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra has invited 175 eminent guests for the bhoomi pujan event in Ayodhya, including PM Modi. The guest list also includes Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
4. Ram Janmabhoomi agitation frontline leader Lalkrishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi will be attending the event via videoconferencing instead of being in Ayodhya in person. A day before the ceremony, Advani issued a statement saying August 5 will be a historic and emotional day not just for him, but all Indians.
5. Politicians, leaders and the Ram Janmabhoomi trust itself, have all discouraged followers and supporters to not turn up in Ayodhya amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and instead watch the event live on television. Ayodhya administration has also banned the entry of all outsiders in the temple town as added security measure. All entry points into the town have been sealed.
6. Members of the Indian community in United States gathered outside the Capitol Hill in Washington DC to celebrate the foundation laying ceremony of Ram Mandir in the morning.
7. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi who had vehemently opposed the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Ram Mandir construction said in an early morning tweet that “Babri Masjid thi, hai aur rahegi inshallah. Babri Zinda Hai”.
8. Ahead of the bhoomi pujan ceremony, several Congress leaders have come out to voice support towards the event and declare their faith in Lord Ram. The first was Priyanka Gandhi, who issued a detailed statement on Tuesday saying Lord Ram belongs to everyone and that she hoped the ground-breaking ceremony becomes a celebration of national unity. Now, Shashi Tharoor, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and some others have also supported the ceremony.
9. The Shiv Sena, which was at the forefront of the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, has contributed Rs 1 crore for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is, however, unlikely to attend the event in Ayodhya amid the ongoing pandemic.
10. Meanwhile, Bengal has braced for a showdown as the Mamata Banerjee government has imposed complete lockdown in the state to prevent coronavirus spread, but VHP and other saffron units have not taken too kindly to the lockdown on the day of bhoomi pujan. VHP has vowed to continue with their rituals in Bengal despite the lockdown.