Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend a groundbreaking ceremony next month for the Ayodhya Temple construction on a disputed site in northern India where a 16th century mosque was torn down by Hindu hard-liners in 1992, according to the trust overseeing the temple construction.
The ceremony is set for Aug 5, a date organisers said was astrologically auspicious for Hindus but that also marks a year since the Indian Parliament revoked the semi-autonomous status of Muslim-majority state, occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Ayodhya temple inauguration by Modi is heavy with symbolism
The symbolism was impossible to miss for both supporters and opponents of Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, whose manifesto had for decades included pledges to strip restive Kashmir’s autonomy and to build a temple to the Hindu deity Ram where the Mughal-era mosque once stood, a site in the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state.
The day PM @narendramodi ji will be in Ayodhya to inaugurate the construction of Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Mandir, it will be the most historic moment in the history of independent India. The event will be telecasted LIVE on Doordarshan. Other channels will also broadcast the telecast.
— Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra (@ShriRamTeerth) July 25, 2020
Because the coronavirus is still rampaging across India, which has reported the world’s third-highest caseload, the ceremony will be broadcast live on state television and the number of participants and spectators will be limited, according to Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or the World Hindu Organisation, a Hindu nationalist group allied with the BJP.
The temple will serve as an enduring and immortal beaming center of social harmony, national unity and integration and awakening of the feeling of Hindutva, or Hindu way of life, the organisation’s spokesperson Vinod Bansal said in a news release on Saturday.
A century-long dispute over the site was resolved last year following the BJP’s landslide election victory.
Inauguration plans lead to heavy planning by Indian states
Vishwa Hindu Parishad national spokesperson Vinod Bansal, in a press statement tweeted Saturday, said the Prime Minister will be in Ayodhya on August 5 and will be “worshipping with revered saints, scholars, trustees and other dignitaries for the grand Janmabhoomi temple of Bhagwan Shri Ram”.
Also Saturday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Ayodhyaand inspected arrangements ahead of the bhoomi pujan.
Announcing that the Prime Minister will be visiting Ayodhya, he directed authorities to run special cleanliness drives until August 3, and to consider it a Swachhta Abhiyan before Deepawali. He also directed that all Covid protocols be followed.
Saying such an occasion for Ayodhya has come “after 500 years”, he urged people to conduct continuous recitation of the Akhand Ramayan in all local temples. He said every household and temple in Ayodhya must celebrate Deepotsava by lighting oil lamps on the night of August 4 and 5.
Why is the Ayodhya temple so important for Modi?
In November, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the temple trust, saying that Muslim petitions would be given five acres at an alternative site.
Hindus hard-liners have long contended that Mughal Muslim invaders built a mosque on top of a preexisting temple in the ancient city of Ayodya.
A December 1992 riot following the destruction of the mosque sparked communal violence in which about 2,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims.
Meanwhile, the trial in the demolition court case continues to be heard in a special court.
An architect from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Modi’s home state, has proposed a towering sandstone structure 161 feet (49 metres) high with five domes.
Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister and a Hindu monk, requested that Ayodhya hold a special cleaning and purification ceremony and for all of the city’s temples to light oil lamps ahead of Modi’s visit, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
Adityanath said the occasion marked the end of a 500-year struggle, PTI reported.
GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources