Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be doing a groundbreaking ceremony at the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra. The Trust would lay the foundation stone of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya, with chanting and prayers. According to a trust spokesperson, the foundation stone could be laid either on August 3 or 5, both the days are being considered auspicious.
Due to the Corona pandemic, many people are not invited to attend the event; that is the reason BJP is gearing up to live stream the August 5 ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ or groundbreaking ceremony of the Ram Temple at Ram Janmabhoomi across all the 70 constituencies of the national capital. Many television channels and online broadcasters would be showing live occurrences so that all can have darshan and pleasure of seeing the event live. Amidst the coronavirus crisis, the general public has been asked not to throng the Ram Janmabhoomi site, and only around 200 VVIPs have been invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony. BJP has decided to install LED screens across all the Assembly constituencies in Delhi so that people can witness the historical event of Ram Temple ‘Bhoomi Pujan’. BJP workers have also been asked to light ‘diyas’ on August 5 and celebrate the day like Diwali; a Hindu festival celebrated to mark the homecoming of Lord Ram after 14 years of exile. This will be a historic opportunity for the countrymen.
Debate – Auspicious vs. Inauspicious
Shankracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh) argued that the time decided for Ram Temple ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ ceremony is ‘inauspicious’, he said “We are Ram devotees, we will be happy if anyone builds the temple of Ram, but for that- appropriate date and auspicious time should be chosen. There should not be politics in this. Due to politics, the issues of Hindus get knocked down. The temple was being built with the public’s money; their opinion should be sought as well.
Even the seers and saints of Varanasi have come out to oppose the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 5, arguing that it was that the ‘Muhurat’ for the ceremony is not auspicious. They said, “We don’t want any position or to be a trustee of the Ram Temple. We only want that the temple should be built properly, and the foundation stone should be laid at the right time, but this is an ‘ashubh ghadi’ (inauspicious time)”. While the Shankaracharya did not give any specific reason for calling it inauspicious time, he might have been referring to the pandemic.
While Narendranand Maharaj said the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ of Ram Janamabhommi had already been done on November 5, 1990, in the presence of VHP leaders, then RSS chief and seers and saints.
One the other hand, it’s the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust that had proposed two dates in August for laying the foundation stone of a Ram Temple. After which, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had finalised August 5 – as the day for the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad said that the time for the Bhoomi Pujan ritual of the Ram Temple had been chosen after due consultations with eminent people of Varanasi. “It’s an auspicious time. It has been chosen with care after talks with eminent people of Varanasi and Ayodhya. Moreover, when the function involves Lord Ram, then how can it be inauspicious,” VHP national working president Alok Kumar said. Kumar was allaying concerns raised by a few over the alleged inauspicious timing of the foundation stone-laying ritual on August 5.
The decision about the tentative date for laying the foundation stone of the temple was taken at a meeting of the Trust members held in Ayodhya on Saturday. Senior advocate K Parasaran, Vasudevanand Saraswati and Swami Vishwa Prasanjeet attended the meeting via video links.
Allahabad HC dismisses against ‘Bhoomi Pujan’
Meanwhile, Allahabad High Court has dismissed the petition by a social activist, seeking direction to restrain respondents from ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ for laying down the foundation stone of Ram Mandir. The petition claimed that respondents invited about 300 people, and that may cause social distancing violations amid the Covid-19 pandemic. After Surrey Shankracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati, now Swami Avimukteshwarananda and Shumeru Peeth Shankracharya Narendranand Maharaj have also spoken against the groundbreaking ceremony on August 5 saying that they ‘Muhurat’ is not auspicious.
Height and Architect
The height of Ayodhya’s grand Ram temple would be 161-feet, an increase by 20- feet from the previous design, which was prepared in 1988, according to Nikhil Sompura, architect and the son of C Sompura, chief architect of the temple. The construction work on the Ram temple will officially start soon after the ceremony. The Trust has set a 2024 deadline for completing the temple.
Donations and Contributions
Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has made one crore donation for the construction of Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya. Anil Desai Shiv Sena leader and member of the Rajya Sabha told media that Shiv Sena made donations through RTGS from SBI in favour of “Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra” and Senior Mahant of the Trust, Champat Rai, personally confirmed about the money getting credited to their trust account.
A day after the Trusts’ Ayodhya meeting, the UP chapter of the Indian Bullions Association had donated 33 kg sliver brick to the Trust in a simple ceremony in Ayodhya on July 21, 2020. The silver bricks will be used in Bhoomi Pujan. Even trust chairman Mahant Nritya Gopal Das has got a silver brick weighing 40 kg prepared, and it would be placed in the sanctum sanctorum of the proposed Ram temple during the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony by the PM. Politicians have also started donating money for the Ram Mandir. UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya, who visited Ayodhya to take stock of the preparedness recently, donated Rs 6.60 lakh. Earlier on March 25 while relocating the idol of Lord Ram from the makeshift temple to his new temporary bullet-proof prefabricated fiber abode on Ram Janmabhoomi premises, UP CM Yogi Adityanath had donated Rs 11 lakh to the Trust.
Moreover, Mahavir Mandir Trust of Patna has also announced a donation of Rs 10 crore for the cause with installments of Rs 2 crore to be paid every year as per the instructions of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra Trust. The first installment has already been paid towards the cause. Besides, the devotees are also donating gold and silver to the Trust. Hyderabad-based jeweller K Srinivas has donated a one-kg gold brick and a five-kg silver. The Trust has appealed to the donors to give cash as it would be ready to use in the construction work. Through online donations in the past four months, the Trust has received around Rs 6 crore in its two bank accounts in State Bank of India, the main branch, Ayodhya. The Trust is also sending acknowledgement receipt of donations along with ‘thanks letter’ by post to donors.
With the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony for the construction of Ram temple just a week away, donations from various quarters have already started pouring in. As the temple construction is set to begin, many Indian citizens made their donations through online payment gateways and cash and kinds. Ram Mandir is receiving donations since Babri masjid got demolished. the VHP will reach out to “10 crore Hindu households and 4.5 lakh villages across the country to collect donations for the temple. “We got some proposals where people said they could bear the entire cost of the temple construction. But we said all should contribute. We requested the temple trust to suggest a minimum contribution that people can make so that maximum people can be included,” the VHP working president said.
Simultaneously, the VHP has been collecting “sacred earth” from 11 religious’ sites in different areas, along with water from rivers. These are being sent to Ayodhya to be used during the Bhoomi Pujan. The Delhi unit of VHP has collected them from different temples in the national capital and will be sending it to Ayodhya through courier. Other groups of VHP across various states are also doing the same thing.
General Secretary of the Trust Champat Rai said soon after the monsoon, the Ram temple trust will contact 10 crore families across the country for financial help, and it will take three to three-and-half years after the finalisation of the temple’s design to complete its construction.
Holy Water, Soil Being Sent from Karnataka also. Multiple religious and spiritual centres from Karnataka are sending mud, water, and other construction samples for the Ram temple foundation stone ceremony in Ayodhya. Senior Karnataka Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) official Muniraju said that the samples are being sent from Dharmasthala and Nethravati, Kudal Sangama, in Uttara Kannada. Similarly, from Suthur Matha in Hubli, Hubli Moorsavara Matha, Mysuru Suthur Matha, Chamundeshwari Hills, Cauvery river water, Kapila, Tungabadhra and many other places.
While spiritual guru and story narrator (Katha Vachak) Morari Bapu has announced a donation of Rs 5 crore from his Vyaspeeth to Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra Trust, Prince Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy, a self-proclaimed descendent of Mughals, has offered a gold brick weighing one kg to the PM towards temple construction. Morari Bapu had announced the donation during an online spiritual talk on Monday and appealed to his followers to contribute voluntarily. However, the Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust has already made it clear that it was open to receive donations from anyone who wanted to contribute towards the temple construction. In its last meeting in Ayodhya, the Trust’s general secretary Champat Rai had made it clear that the temple would be constructed through donations.
BJP MP Subramanian Swamy is not invited for the groundbreaking ceremony in Ayodhya, he told media even if he received an invitation he would not have gone there. Further, he said, all the credit is falsely taken by PM Narendra Modi, the actual credit should go to Rajiv Gandhi, and PV Narasimha Rao.
From Karnataka, only three people have been invited —Bejawar Swamy, Virendra Hegde, and Nirmananda Swamy. A host of senior BJP, RSS and VHP leaders associated with the Ram Temple movement, prominent Muslim leaders, one of the primary litigants in the Babri Masjid demolition case, Baba Ramdev and saints from across the country – these are among the invitees. According to senior members in the Trust, the invited Muslim leaders include Zafar Farooqui, chairman of Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board, and Wasim Rizvi, chairman of UP Shia Central Waqf Board. Iqbal Ansari, one of the litigants in the Ayodhya land dispute case, has also been invited. Ansari is the son of Mohammad Hashim Ansari, one of the original litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are among the BJP-Sangh leaders who have confirmed their presence. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi are among the other invitees who have confirmed their participation.
But Opposition leaders are not invited. The Trust has not invited opposition leaders from any political party, including Congress president and Rae Bareli MP Sonia Gandhi. “We have not sent an invite to any political party as we don’t want to differentiate between parties. We can’t pick and choose. Lord Ram is a holy figure for all. We are appealing to all those who have not been invited to pray wherever they are,” Swami Govind Dev Giri, treasurer of the Trust, told the media. The only exception is BSP MP Ritesh Pandey, who represents Ambedkar Nagar. “We have invited all MPs and MLAs representing Faizabad, Ayodhya, and adjoining areas,” Giri said. This list includes BJP MP Lallu Singh, who represents Faizabad, BJP MLA Baba Gorakhnath from Milkipur, and BJP’s Ayodhya MLA Ved Prakash Gupta. Senior civil servants from Ayodhya will also be present. Giri added that the Trust has not sent an invite to any central ministers due to the pandemic. Because of the COVID pandemic, the Trust is inviting only a limited number of people.
All prominent BJP and VHP leaders who were part of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement have confirmed their participation at the groundbreaking ceremony, said the sources. These include BJP patriarchs LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, former UP CM Kalyan Singh, and leaders Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, and Sadhvi Rithambhara. BJP president JP Nadda, RSS women’s wing chief Shanti Akka, and Puneet Dalmia, son of senior VHP member late Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, have also been invited. Saints from across the country and heads of ‘akharas’ that represent different Hindu sects have invited too.
Volunteers and security
A team of 500 sanitary workers has been deployed in the temple town to deck up the temple city. Walls in the main streets of Ayodhya have been decorated with graffiti and paintings depicting scenes from the Ramayan. According to Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Updadhyaya, ward-wise meetings are being conducted to make Ayodhya ready to welcome PM Narendra Modi on August 5. The same team that managed the Kumbh Mela in 2019 has been deployed to take care of every small thing during the August 5 event.
A separate team of BJP workers led by Ayodhya MLA Ved Prakash Gupta is trying to reach out to every household to make sure all houses in temple town are decked up with lights and earthen diyas for two days from August 4. Around 1.25 lakh earthen lamps would be lit to bring the temple town to life during the event. Locals have been asked to decorate their houses with rangoli, bandanwar (a garland made of flowers), decorative lights, and earthen diyas on August 4, 5 for the Bhoomi Pujan, said, Gupta.
He said VHP’s Mahanagar convener Ashok Gupta has been given the responsibility of appealing to people to do ‘bhajan kirtan’ on August 3 and 4 and light earthen candles on August 5 at their homes.
Mahant Avaidyanath, who was the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple, played a leading role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and founded the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Mukti Yagna Samiti (committee of sacrifice to liberate Ram’s birthplace) in 1984. He was also linked to the Hindu Mahasabha and later represented the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency four times as a Bharatiya Janata Party MP.