Ram Mandir

Coordinates: 26°47′44″N 82°11′39″E / 26.7956°N 82.1943°E / 26.7956; 82.1943
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Ram Mandir
Ram Mandir at Ayodhya
Religion
AffiliationHinduism
DeityRam Lalla (infant form of Rama)
Governing bodyShri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra
StatusUnder construction[a](consecrated 22 January 2024; 2 months ago (2024-01-22)[1])
Location
LocationRam Janmabhoomi, Ayodhya, UP, India
Geographic coordinates26°47′44″N 82°11′39″E / 26.7956°N 82.1943°E / 26.7956; 82.1943
Architecture
Architect(s)Sompura family[b]
StyleNagara style
Groundbreaking5 August 2020; 3 years ago (2020-08-05)[4]
Specifications
Length110 metres (360 ft)
Width72 metres (235 ft)
Height (max)49 metres (161 ft)[5]
Site area1.1 hectares (2.7 acres)[5]
Website
Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra

The Ram Mandir (lit.'Rama Temple') is a partially constructed Hindu temple complex in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India.[6][7] Many Hindus believe that it is located at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi, the mythical birthplace of Rama, a principal deity of Hinduism.[8][9][10] The temple was inaugurated[7] on 22 January 2024 after a prana pratishtha (consecration) ceremony.[6][10] On the first day of its opening, following the consecration, the temple received a rush of over half a million visitors,[11] and after a month, the average number of visitors was reported to be "1 to 1.5 lakh on a daily basis".[12]

The site of the temple has been the subject of communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India, as it is the former location of the Babri Masjid mosque, which was built between 1528 and 1529. The idols of Rama and Sita were placed in the mosque in 1949, before it was attacked and demolished in 1992.[13][14][15] In 2019, the Supreme Court of India delivered the verdict to give the disputed land to Hindus for construction of a temple, while Muslims were given land nearby in Dhannipur in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.[16] The court referenced a report from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as evidence suggesting the presence of a structure beneath the demolished Babri Masjid, that was found to be non-Islamic.[17]

On 5 August 2020, the bhumi pujan (transl. ground breaking ceremony) for the commencement of the construction of Ram Mandir was performed by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.[18] The temple complex, currently under construction, is being supervised by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust. On 22 January 2024, Modi served as the Mukhya Yajman (transl. chief patron) of rituals for the event and performed the prana pratishtha (transl. consecration) of the temple.[19][20] The prana pratishtha ceremony was organised by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra.[21][22]

The temple construction has been accompanied by a $10 billion plan "encompassing a new airport, revamped railway station, and township development" to transform the ancient Ayodhya city into a global religious and spiritual tourist destination.[23][24] The temple has also attracted a number of controversies due to alleged misuse of donation, sidelining of its major activists, and politicisation of the temple by the Bharatiya Janata Party.[25][26][27][28]

Significance of Rama

Ram Lalla, the five-year old form of Rama is the principal deity of the Ram Mandir.

Rama is a Hindu deity who is considered by Hindus to be a Pūrṇāvatāra (lit.'The complete avatar of Vishnu') of Vishnu.[c] and some Hindus view Rama as Para Brahman (lit.'The ultimate Brahman'). Rama holds huge significance in Hindu culture and religion. In the Rama avatar, Vishnu is not supposed to exhibit any of his divine potencies and lead life as a human.[30] Therefore, based on the sixteen qualities of Rama mentioned by Narada to Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, the Astika Hindus view Rama as Puruṣottama (lit.'The ideal man'), Vigrahavān dharmaḥ (lit.'Embodiment of Dharma') and Ādi Puruṣa (lit.'The Purusha mentioned in Vedas, i.e. the supreme personality of Godhead').[31][32][d] According to the ancient Indian Itihāsa, Ramayana, Rama was born in Ayodhya.[33] Thus Ayodhya is among seven most sacred cities to Hindus. For Astika Hindus, Ayodhya is like what Mecca is to Muslims and Jerusalem is to the Jews and Christians.[34]

Three places in Ayodhya are considered as prominent puṇya kṣetra (lit.'virtued pilgrimage site') by Hindus. They are Janmasthāna (lit.'The birthplace'), Svargadvāra (lit.'The gateway to Heaven') and Yajñasthala (lit.'Place where holy sacrifice was performed'). Temples commemorating these events used to exist in olden days as Janmasthān temple, Svargadvār temple and Trētā-kā-Thākūr temple respectively. But, they were destroyed during Islamic rule in the medieval ages and mosques were built.[35][36] While Marxist historians like Irfan Habib agree about the fate of Svargadvar and Treta-ka-Thakur temples, there is some lack of consensus among scholars whether Janmasthan temple was destroyed or not during Medieval rule which eventually led to Ayodhya dispute that was resolved legally.[37] The Trayodaśakṣarī mantra (Sanskrit: त्रयोदशाक्षरी मंत्र, lit.'13-character mantra') also known as Śrī Rāma Tāraka Mantra (lit.'The Rama mantra for Salvation') is Śrī Rāma Jaya Rāma Jaya Jaya Rāma (Sanskrit: श्री राम जय राम जय जय राम​) and many Astika Hindus believe that chanting it repeatedly lead to salvation.[38][39] Tāraka means something that carries or helps a Jīva (lit.'a living being') cross the ocean of samsara. Great devotees of Rama such as Valmiki, Tulsidas, Bhadrachala Ramadasu, Samartha Ramadas, Tyagaraja, Purandara Dasa, Gondavalekar Maharaj and Mahatma Gandhi popularised this mantra.[40]

Deity

Ram Mandir is being built to commemorate the birth of Rama at his Janmasthan. Therefore, the presiding deity of the temple is supposed to be the infant form of Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. Rama in that infant form was referred as Ram Lalla (lit.'Child Rama') by Tulsidas. However, the idol of Rama that was placed in 1949 referred to as Ram Lalla Virajman (lit.'Installed Child Rama') by local Hindus.[41] Ram Lalla was a litigant in the court case over the disputed site in 1989, being considered a "juristic person" by the law.[3] He was represented by Triloki Nath Pandey, a senior VHP leader who was considered Ram Lalla's closest 'human' friend.[41] As a new idol of the deity got installed in the sanctum sanctorum as the Mūlavirāt mūrti (lit. The main presiding deity),[e] the Mandir Trust has informed that the Ram Lalla Virajman idol of 1949 shall henceforth be used as Utsava mūrti (lit. idol for festivals).[44]

History

The site is the former location of the Babri Masjid, which was built in the 16th century. The idols of Rama and Sita were placed in the mosque in 1949, before the mosque was attacked and demolished in 1992.[13][14][15] In 2019, the Supreme Court of India delivered the verdict to give the disputed land to Hindus for the construction of a temple, while Muslims would be given land elsewhere to construct a mosque.[45] The court referenced a report from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as evidence suggesting the presence of a structure beneath the demolished Babri Masjid, that was found to be non-Islamic.[46] The ASI claims were heavily disputed by critics as contradictory and unreliable,[47][48][49][50][51] but after detailed proceedings, the Supreme Court accepted the ASI report as valid. The Supreme Court, in its landmark judgement concluded that the underlying structure beneath the mosque was not an Islamic structure. However, the court concluded that no evidence was found that a non-Islamic structure was specifically demolished for the construction of the Babri Masjid.[52][53] Another salient aspect in the apex court's judgement is on the question on the claim of Hindus that disputed structure as the birthplace of Rama. The court observed that the Hindu claim is 'undisputed' and opined that there is clear evidence that Hindus believed that site to be Rama's birthplace.[54][55]

Ancient and medieval

1717 CE Map of Ayodhya's Ram Mandir at Jaipur City Palace

In 1528, the commander of the Mughal Empire, Mir Baqi, constructed the Babri Masjid mosque, under the order of Babur, on the site of the Ram Janmabhoomi, the mythical birthplace of Rama.[56][page needed] The earliest record of the mosque may be traced back to 1767, in the Latin book Descriptio Indiae, authored by the Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler. According to him, the local population believed that the mosque was constructed by destroying the Ramkot temple, believed to be the fortress of Rama in Ayodhya, and the Bedi, where the birthplace of Rama is situated.[57][58]

The first instance of religious violence was documented in 1853.[59] In December 1858, the British administration prohibited Hindus from conducting puja (rituals) at the contested site. A platform was created for conducting rituals outside the mosque.[60]

Modern

Ram Janmbhoomi Mandir in 2024

The murtis (transl. sacred images) of Rama and Sita were installed inside the Babri Masjid on the night of 22–23 December 1949 and the devotees began to gather the next day.[13][61] By 1950, the state took control of the mosque under Section 145 CrPC and allowed Hindus, not Muslims, to perform their worship at the site.[62]

In the 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), belonging to the Hindu nationalist family, Sangh Parivar, launched a new movement to reclaim the site for Hindus and to erect a temple dedicated to the infant Rama (Ram Lalla) at this spot. The VHP began to collect funds and bricks with "Jai Shri Ram" written on them. Later, the government under Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave the VHP permission for Shilanyas (transl. the foundation stone ceremony) to proceed, with the then Home Minister, Buta Singh, formally conveying the permission to the VHP leader, Ashok Singhal. Initially, the Government of India and the Government of Uttar Pradesh had agreed that the shilanyas would be conducted outside of the disputed site. However, on 9 November 1989, a group of VHP leaders and Sadhus laid the foundation stone by digging a 200-litre (7-cubic-foot) pit adjacent to the disputed land. The singhdwar (transl. main entrance) of the sanctum sanctorum was constructed there.[63] The VHP then laid the foundations of a temple on the land adjacent to the disputed mosque. On 6 December 1992, the VHP and the Bharatiya Janata Party organised a rally at the site involving 150,000 volunteers, known as karsevaks. The rally turned violent, the crowd overwhelmed the security forces and tore down the mosque.[64][65]

The demolition of the mosque resulted in several months of inter-communal violence between India's Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of an estimated 2,000 people in Bombay (now Mumbai) as a direct consequence, and triggering riots all over the Indian subcontinent.[66] A day after the demolition of the mosque, on 7 December 1992, The New York Times reported that over 30 Hindu temples across Pakistan were attacked, some set on fire, and one was demolished. Hindu temples in Bangladesh were also attacked.[64]

On 5 July 2005, five terrorists attacked the makeshift Ram temple at the site of the destroyed Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. All five were shot dead in the ensuing encounter with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), while one civilian died in the grenade attack that the attackers launched to breach the cordoned wall. The CRPF suffered three casualties, two of whom were seriously injured with multiple gunshot wounds.[67][68]

Reports on two archaeological excavations in 1978 and 2003 conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) claimed to have found evidence indicating that a temple existed on the site.[69][70] Archaeologist K. K. Muhammed accused several left-leaning historians of undermining the findings.[71] Over the years, various title and legal disputes took place, such as the passage of the Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act in 1993. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the 1.12 hectares (2.77 acres) of disputed land be divided into three parts, one going to the Ram Lalla or Infant Rama, represented by the Hindu Mahasabha for the construction of the Ram temple, one going to the Muslim Sunni Waqf Board, and one going to Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara.[8][72] All three parties involved appealed against the division of disputed land to the Supreme Court.[73][74]

In the Supreme Court's verdict on the Ayodhya dispute in 2019, it was decided that the disputed land would be handed over to a trust formed by the Government of India for the construction of a Ram temple. The trust was eventually formed under the name of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra. On 5 February 2020, it was announced in the Parliament of India that the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accepted a plan to construct the temple. Two days later, on 7 February, 2.0 hectares (5 acres) of land was allocated for a new mosque to be built 22 km (14 mi) away from Ayodhya City in Dhannipur village, Ayodhya.[75][76]

Architecture

The original design for Ram Mandir was devised in 1988 by the Sompura family of Ahmedabad.[3] The Sompuras have contributed to the design of over 100 temples worldwide for at least 15 generations, including the Somnath temple.[77] The chief architect of the temple was Chandrakant Sompura, assisted by his two sons, Nikhil Sompura and Ashish Sompura, who are also architects.[78]

A new design, with some changes from the original, was prepared by the Sompuras in 2020,[78] per the Hindu texts, the Vastu shastra and the Shilpa shastras.[79] The temple will be 250 feet (76 m) wide, 380 feet (120 m) long and 161 feet (49 m) high.[80] Upon completion, the temple complex became the world's third largest Hindu temple.[78] It is designed in the Māru-Gurjara architecture of Nagara style, a type of Hindu temple architecture found primarily in northern India.[77] A model of the proposed temple was showcased during the Prayag Kumbh Mela in 2019.[81]

The temple's main structure has been built on a raised platform with three storeys. It has five mandapas in the middle of the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) and on the entrance passage. The Shri Ram Darbar, located on the first floor, comprises five halls – Nritya Mandap, Rang Mandap, Sabha Mandap, Prarthana Mandap, and Kirtan Mandap. In Nagara style, the mandapas are decorated with shikharas.[82][83] Adorned with deity statues, the temple includes dedicated mandirs for Surya, Bhagwati, Ganesh, and Shiv at the corners. Annapurna and Hanuman temples are on the northern and southern arms. The foundation features a 14-metre (46 ft)-thick roller-compacted concrete layer resembling artificial rock, with a 21-foot (6.4 m) granite plinth for moisture protection, avoiding iron use. Accessibility is ensured with ramps, lifts, and facilities for the elderly and differently-abled. A pilgrims facility centre for 25,000 people offers medical and locker services. Environmental focus preserves 70% of the 70-acre (28 ha) area as green space, emphasising water conservation.[84][85][86]

The temple has a total of 366 columns. The columns have 16 idols each to include the incarnations of Shiva, the 10 Dashavataras, the Chausath Yoginis, and the 12 incarnations of the goddess Saraswati. The width of the stairs are 16 feet (4.9 m). Per scriptures dedicated to the design of temples dedicated to Vishnu, the sanctum sanctorum is octagonal in shape.[79] The temple covers an area of 4.0 hectares (10 acres), while the remaining 23 hectares (57 acres) of land has been developed into a complex with a prayer hall, a lecture hall, an educational facility and other facilities including a museum and a cafeteria.[63][additional citation(s) needed] According to the temple committee, the site has a capability to handle 70,000 visitors.[87] Larsen & Toubro offered to oversee the design and construction of the temple free of cost, and became the contractor of the project.[88][89] The Central Building Research Institute, National Geophysical Research Institute and the Bombay, Guwahati and Madras IITs have assisted in areas such as soil testing, concrete supply and design.[90][91]

The construction work has been accomplished with 600,000 cubic feet (17,000 m3) of sandstone from Baansi in Rajasthan.[79] No iron and steel has been used in the construction of the temple, and the fusing of the stone blocks has required ten thousand copper plates.[92] In a culturally significant move, Thailand also symbolically contributed to the inauguration of the Ram Mandir, by sending soil to the Ram Janmabhoomi, building on their prior gesture of sending water from two rivers in Thailand to honour the temple.[93]

According to the temple trust, the final blueprint of Ram Mandir included temples dedicated to Surya, Ganesha, Shiva, Durga, Vishnu and Brahma in the temple grounds.[94]

Fundraising

The Ram Mandir was built with funds gained through a huge fundraising drives, involving nearly two million volunteers. The first to contribute was then-president Ramnath Kovind was the first to contribute, donating 500,000 on 14 January 2021.[95] Over 127 million individuals and families, including even sex workers and beggars contributed money.[96][97] The temple trust has received nearly 50 billion in donations.[98][99] The method of fundraising for the Ram Mandir seems to be inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's view that the temples should be built through fundraising and without using government money.[100][101] Ram mandir construction has been termed by some media as World's largest crowdfunding project.[102] Fundraising by the Mandir trust has ended on 27 February 2021.[103]

In 2015, the Hindu Mahasabha, among the leading organisation involved in the Ram Mandir issue, alleged the BJP-affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) of carrying out donation scam of over 1,400 crore (US$180 million) over the construction of the temple. The VHP denied this allegation.[26]

In 2019, the national spokesperson of the Nirmohi Akhara, Mahant Sitaram Das, accused the VHP of carrying out a 1,400 crore (US$180 million) scam over the temple.[25] Political leaders from opposition parties have also questioned the methods of fund collection.[104][105]

The public were warned of instances in which online scammers posed as fundraisers.[106]

Construction

The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust began the first phase of construction of the Ram Mandir in March 2020.[107][108] The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in India caused a temporary suspension of the construction.[109][110] On 25 March 2020, Ram's idol was moved to a temporary location in the presence of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath.[111] In preparation for the temple's construction, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised a 'Vijay Mahamantra Jaap Anushthan', in which individuals would gather at different places to chant the 'Vijay Mahamantra' – Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram, on 6 April 2020. This was said to ensure "victory over hurdles" in constructing the temple.[112]

It was officially announced by Champat Rai, the General Secretary of the Sri Ram Janmbhoomi Kshetra Trust, that 22 January 2024 would be the scheduled date for the installation of the Ram Lalla idol in the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum). On 25 October 2023, a formal invitation was extended to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the ceremony.[113]

In 2020, the national spokesperson of the Nirmohi Akhara, Mahant Sitaram Das, criticised the BJP's decision to have the temple foundation begun by Narendra Modi and said that the work of building the temple should be done only by the religious priests.[28] A number of Hindutva proponents, including online social media influencers, raised objections over the temple's construction with regards to its design and involvement of the Muslims, claiming that they found Islamic motifs in the Ram Mandir. Champat Rai, the general secretary of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust, responded to these concerns by saying that temple was being sculpted by experts, and there could be no question about their religion.[114][verification needed] The vice-president of the Hindu Mahasabha, Pandit Ashok Sharma, said that the BJP "got the entire thing politicised."[27]

A number of opposition parties, as well as BJP members themselves, have criticised the BJP for using the temple to for gain political mileage.[115] The President of the Congress, Mallikarjun Kharge, had questioned the authority of Home Minister Amit Shah, after he declared the opening date of the temple.[116] The BJP leader Subramanian Swamy questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's involvement in Ram Mandir's inauguration.[117] The Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has criticised the Indian media for diverting attention from critical governance issues by overly focusing on the temple.[118]

Bhumi Pujan ceremony

Prime Minister Narendra Modi performing Bhumi Pujan or the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ram Mandir. Also visible are the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mohan Bhagwat, and the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Anandiben Patel.

On the occasion of Bhumi Pujan, the Ram Lalla's dress was stitched by tailors Bhagwat Prasad and Shankar Lal, a fourth generation tailor to Rama's idol.[119]

The temple construction officially started again after a Bhumi-Pujan (transl. ground breaking ceremony) on 5 August 2020. The three-day long Vedic ritual was held ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony, which revolved around the installation of a 40 kg (88 pounds) silver brick as the foundation stone by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.[3] On the day before on 4 August, the Ramarchan Puja (transl.Puja of Rama's feet) was performed, in order to ritually invite all the major deities into the temple.[120]

On the occasion of the Bhoomi Poojan, soil and holy water were collected from several religious places across India, such as the Triveni Sangam of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati at Prayagraj, the head of the Kaveri river] at Talakaveri in Karnataka, and the Kamakhya Temple in Assam.[121] Soil was also sent from various Hindu temples, gurudwaras and Jain temples across the nation, as well as from the four pilgrimage sites in Char Dham, to bless the temple.[122]

Before the ceremony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought Hanuman's blessing by praying at the Hanuman Garhi Temple in Ayodhya.[123] The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, Chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Mohan Bhagwat, Chief of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and Chief of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, Nritya Gopal Das and Narendra Modi gave speeches.[123]

Some priests and religious leaders, such as Swaroopanand Saraswati, complained that 5 August was not a ritually auspicious date and that the ceremony did not follow proper ritual procedures. They also claimed that the function did not include a havan.[124] Writer and activist Arundhati Roy, a noted critic of PM Modi, pointed out that the chosen date marked one year since the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.[66] The Pakistan Foreign Office issued a statement criticising India for commencing for constructing a temple on the former site of the destroyed Babri Masjid.[125]

In 2017, the Hindu Mahasabha accused the BJP, Bajrang Dal and other Sangh Parivar organisations of hijacking the Ram Mandir despite having no involvement in its long battle.[126][27] In 2020, Pramod Joshi, the national spokesperson of the Hindu Mahasabha, said that the real credit of Ram Mandir belongs to Hindu Mahasabha, and that the Hindu Mahasabha should have performed the bhumi pujan, but instead had been kept away. He added that the committee for the temple was formed at the BJP's central office and the Hindu Mahasabha was sidelined.[127]

2021–present

The temple trust decided to launch a nationwide "mass contact and contribution campaign" aimed at reaching 55–600 million people.[91] Voluntary donations of 1 (1.3¢ US) and higher were accepted.[128] On 1 January 2021, former President Ram Nath Kovind made the first contribution towards the construction of the Ram Mandir by donating more than 5 lakh (US$6,300).[129] Several leaders and notable personalities across the nation followed this. By April 2021, around 5,000 crore (US$630 million) was collected from donations across India.[130][131] Nearly 150,000 VHP activists participated in collecting donations. The temple trust also received donations from the members of the Muslim and Christian communities.[132]

View of the Ram Mandir under construction in 2022

In August 2021, a viewing location was created for the public to observe the construction works in the temple site.[133] Following the groundbreaking ceremony, up to 40 feet (12 m) of debris were removed and the remaining earth compacted.[134] The foundation was made using roller-compacted concrete.[135] A total of 47–48 layers, with each layer 1-foot (0.30 m) high, were completed by mid-September 2021.[134][136] Due to electricity supply issues in Mirzapur, the cutting of the sandstone was slowed down.[94] In early 2022, a video was released by the temple trust, showing the planned construction of the temple in 3D along with other related information.[137][138][5]

In January 2023, two 60-million-year-old Shaligram rocks, 26 tonnes and 14 tonnes respectively, were sent from the Gandaki river in Nepal. These rocks were used to carve the idol of Ram Lalla in the sanctum sanctorum.[139] In August 2023, according to the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, 70% of the groundwork was completed and 40% of the roof work was completed.[140] In December 2023, the entire base, along with the six smaller temples that surround the main temple, which consists of the sanctum sanctorum, were almost completed.[141] For its consecration, only the ground floor was opened.[142] The temple is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.[142]

Consecration

Devotees and visitors celebrating the Prana Pratishtha ceremony outside the temple on 22 January 2024

On 22 June 2023, Temple Construction Committee chairman Nripendra Misra announced that the ground floor of the three-story temple was complete and was expected to open for the devotees in January 2024.[143] The Ram Mandir Teerth Kshetra Trust announced that Hindu astrologers had selected 22 January 2024 as the auspicious date for the consecration ceremony.[144]

In preparation for the Prana Pratishtha (consecration) ceremony, the Government of Uttar Pradesh earmarked 100 crore (US$13 million) for 'Ramotsav,' a series of religious events that spanned 826 local bodies across Uttar Pradesh along with the Ram Paduka Yatra, commencing in December 2023 and culminating in the grand celebrations from Makar Sankranti on 16 January 2024, and lasting until the inauguration of the Ram Mandir on 22 January. The yatra followed the Ram Van Gaman Path, retracing Rama's 14-year exile from Ayodhya.[145] The trust, the Government of Uttar Pradesh, and Ayodhya city administrators carried out extensive preparations to accommodate the influx of devotees and invited guests from all over the world.[146] Strict security measures were enacted in and around the temple premises.[147] The Government of Uttar Pradesh announced public holiday to mark the occasion. The Government of India and some state governments declared a half day holiday.[148]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited to perform the Prana Pratishtha of the newly made idol in the sanctum sanctorum.[149] In preparation, he undertook an 11-day fast, consuming only coconut water and fruit and sleeping on the ground at night.[150] He performed the consecration ceremony on 22 January 2024 from 12:15 PM to 12:45PM IST.[151] Prime Minister Modi urged every Indian to light up diyas to mark the occasion and celebrate it like Diwali.[152]

Prime Minister Modi during Prana Pratishtha

The guests were addressed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Modi.[153][154] Modi spoke of Rama as a symbol of righteousness and unity, emphasising the temple as a testament to India's cultural resilience[155] and underscoring its role in shaping a new India— one based on social harmony, economic prosperity, and scientific progress. He urged citizens to draw inspiration from Ram's ideals to build a strong and vibrant nation.

While Yogi Adityanath's address was steeped in religious fervor, celebrating the Ram Mandir as a victory for faith and perseverance. He praised the devotion of millions who contributed to the temple's construction and acknowledged the divine blessings that guided the process.[156][157]

Mohan Bhagwat spoke of the Ram Mandir as a symbol of national pride, marking the revival of India's cultural heritage. He emphasised the importance of preserving ancient traditions and values in a rapidly modernising world.[158]

The guest list also included prominent industrialists, scientists, actors, army officers, spiritual leaders and Padma awardees.[159][160] The event was organised by Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra.[161]

The four Shankaracharyas are given the highest importance in matters of Hinduism.[f] Citing various reasons, none of them of the four cardinal mathas took part in the ceremony.[163][164][165] Sringeri Sharada Peetham issued a denial that its head seer Bharathi Tirtha had expressed some displeasure and called the ceremony a "matter of joy" for all Hindu believers.[166] Tirtha blessed the event and sent an administrative officer, Gowrishankar as representative of the matha.[167] The head seer of Govardhan Math, Nischalananda Saraswati said that the ceremony deviated from established tradition.[168] The head seer of Jyotir Math, Swami Avimukteshwaranand has stated that the ceremony is against Hindu sastras as the temple is still under construction.[169] However, he has also said that Narendra Modi, whom he admires, has awakened the self-respect of Hindus.[170] The head seer of the Dwarka Sharada Peetham, Swami Sadanand Saraswati welcomed the ceremony as a "long awaited moment".[171] He said that none of the four Shankaracharyas were angry and that it was not appropriate for them to attend given, the massive crowd expected.[172] Sankara Vijayendra Saraswati, the head seer of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, which was previously involved in Ayodhya case talks, did attend.[173][174]

Impact

The temple construction has been accompanied by a $10 billion transformation plan for Ayodhya town, "encompassing a new airport, revamped railway station, and township development", fostering multiple hotel development projects and stimulating various economic activities.[24] Uttar Pradesh, which used to be a BIMARU state, recently had its GDP share surpassing Tamil Nadu.[175] As Hindu devotees all over the world throng to have a darshan (auspicious viewing) of this deity, the subsequent economic impact has been estimated to further enrich the state by the end of the year 2024 by four trillion Indian rupees (equivalent to 48 billion US dollars).[176]

Given its religious significance among Hindus, it is estimated that with 50 million annual visitors, Ayodhya's Ram temple is likely to become the most visited Hindu pilgrimage site in India.[177] After the opening of the Ram Temple to public on 23 January 2024, Ayodhya has welcomed 2.4 million visitors in just 12 days.[178] Based on the current visitor numbers, the Ayodhya's Ram temple is projected to become one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the world, surpassing Mecca and the Vatican.[179] Given the temple rush by devotees from all parts of India, it was estimated that spiritual tourism at Ayodhya has potential to create thousands of jobs as more manpower is required to cater the needs of the Ram mandir visitors and also attract huge investments.[180][181]

In popular culture

Uttar Pradesh tableau in the Republic Day parade of 2021
A 9.8-metre (32 ft) model of Ram Mandir displayed during Diwali of 2020 at Pacific Mall in New Delhi[182][183]

During the 2021 Republic Day parade on Rajpath, Uttar Pradesh's tableau showcased a replica of the Ram Mandir.[184] In October 2023, Durga Puja celebrations in Santosh Mitra Square, Kolkata exhibited a replica of Ram Mandir, along with other notable buildings around the world.[185][186]

Slogans

Mandir wahi banayenge (transl. The temple will be built exactly there) is an expression in Hindi, and has become one of the most popular slogans concerning the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and Ram Mandir. It has been used as early as 1985–86, was popularised in the 1990s, and has several variations.[187][188]

It has been a symbol of hope and it has become a part of festivities, and has also become a part of stand-up comedy, jokes and memes.[189][190] In 2019, the slogan was used in the Parliament of India,[189] and it has also been used by media houses.[191][192] The slogan has been used as a threat as well as a vow.[193]

There are variations of the slogan such as one used by Lal Krishna Advani: "Saugandh Ram ki Khat-e hain; Hum Mandir Wahin Banayegein" (transl. We take a vow of Rama that we will build the temple exactly there).[187] Other variations and adaptations include "Wahin Banega Mandir" (transl. A temple will be built there),[191] "Jaha Ram Ka Janma Hua Tha, Hum Mandir Wahi Banayenge" (transl. The temple will be built where Rama was born),[188] "Ram Lalla Hum Aayenge; Mandir Wahi Banayenge" (transl. Ram Lalla, we will come, the temple will be built there, or Ram Lalla we will come to construct a Mandir exactly there)[188] and "Pehle mandir, fir sarkaar" (transl. First the temple, then the government).[194]

Books

  • The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya by Meenakshi Jain, ISBN 9788173055799, 8173055793
  • Sunrise over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times by Salman Khurshid, ISBN 9789354923050, 9354923054
  • "Ram Janmabhoomi: The Inspiration for Hindu Resurgence" by Rashmi Samant

Notes

  1. ^ Only the main temple construction has completed. The temple complex is still under construction
  2. ^ Chandrakant Sompura[2]
    Nikhil Sompura and Ashish Sompura[3]
  3. ^ The avatars of Vishnu are of two types. Pūrṇā and Amśa (lit.'A part'). In the former, Vishnu himself was supposed to have descended on Earth from his abode while in the latter, an equivalent part (or a copy) of him was sent to take the incarnation. Nrisimha, Rama and Krishna are said to be the Purnavataras of Vishnu.[29]
  4. ^ As per Valmiki Ramayana, Rama had sixteen qualities. Rama was said to be 1.guṇavān, 2.vīryavān, 3.dharmajñaḥ, 4.kṛtajñaḥ, 5.satyavākyaḥ, 6.dṛḍhavrataḥ, 7.cāritraḥ, 8.sarvabhūteṣu hitaḥ, 9.vidvān, 10.samarthaḥ, 11. priyadarśanaḥ, 12.ātmavān, 13.jitakrodhaḥ, 14.dyutimān, 15. anasūyakaḥ, and 16.jātaroṣasya saṃyuge devāśca bibhyati.
  5. ^ The presiding deity is also referred by other names such as Acala mūrti (lit. Immovable idol), Dhṛva mūrti(lit. Fixed idol) and Mūlavigraha (lit. The main idol).[42][43]
  6. ^ Adi Sankara who revived Hinduism in the eighth century CE has established four cardinal mutts to protect Hinduism and Vedas. These mutts are referred to as Chatur Āmnāya Pīṭha (lit.'four seats of Vedic knowledge'). These mutts are located in India at Sringeri in the South, Puri in the East, Dwarka in the West, and Badrinath in the North.[162] They are meant to protect Yajurveda, Rigveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda respectively.

See also

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