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Ram dhun rings in streets

Ayodhya ablaze with devotion as ‘Pran Pratishtha’ nears, pilgrims and sadhus flock for historic temple consecration

Screenshot 2024 01 21 211557AYODHYA: Invitees to the “Pran Pratishtha” consecration ceremony at the Ram temple started arriving Sunday in Ayodhya, once a sleepy town now resplendent with new infrastructure and gripped by heightened religious fervour on the eve of a seminal event in India’s political and religious history.

The town, about 140 km west of Lucknow, was bedecked with multi-coloured flowers as recordings of ‘Ram dhun’ played from loudspeakers and townsfolk dressed as Lord Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman paraded down the streets followed by delirious devotees, and news camera crews.

“Ayodhya Ram maye ho gayi hai (Ayodhya is immersed in devotion of Lord Ram),” said Shailendra Gupta, who runs a fabric store on Ram Path, the main street of the town that runs past the Ram temple. “And tomorrow is a day when Hindus across the world will rejoice.”

Skittish policemen kept order, urging cars to stay mobile. But they could only honk repeatedly to part the sea of pilgrims on Ram Path, many with “Jai Shri Ram” painted on their foreheads in shades of ochre and vermillion.

Ceremonial gates depicting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in floral patterns and illumination visible at night add to the aura of the ancient city which has undergone a massive infrastructural growth in the last couple of years after the 2019 Supreme Court verdict on the Ram temple issue.

“The entire country is chanting the name of Lord Ram,” said Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.

All the excitement is in preparation for the mega consecration ceremony on Monday, which will climax decades of efforts and agitation to build the temple on the site where Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.

At the site stood the Babri mosque, which was built in the 16th century. It was demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992. After a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court in November 2019 ruled in favour of the construction of the temple. It also said a 5-acre plot for the construction of a mosque be allotted.

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