Ram Mandir, Ayodhya
|Ram Mandir, Ayodhya|
|Deity||Ram Lalla (infant form of Rama)|
|Festivals||Rama Navami, Diwali, Dussehra|
|Location||Ram Janmabhoomi, Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India|
Nikhil Sompura and Ashish Sompura)
|Creator||Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra|
Construction by Larsen & Toubro (assisted by CBRI, National Geophysical Research Institute and IITs)
|Groundbreaking||5 August 2020|
Ram Mandir (Sanskrit: राम मंदिर) is a Hindu temple that is to be built in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India, at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi, which Hindus believe to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama. The temple construction will be undertaken by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra. The ground-breaking ceremony was performed on 5 August 2020 by Indian prime minister
Rama, considered an incarnation of god Vishnu, is a widely worshiped Hindu deity. According to the ancient Indian epic, Ramayana, Rama was born in Ayodhya. In the 16th century, the Mughals constructed a mosque, the Babri Masjid which is believed to be the site of the Ram Janmabhoomi, the birthplace of Rama. A violent dispute arose in the 1850s.
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. In November 1989, the VHP laid the foundations of a temple on 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 kar sevaks. The rally turned violent, and the crowd overwhelmed the security forces and tore down the mosque.
The demolition resulted in several months of intercommunal rioting between India's Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people, and triggering riots all over the Indian subcontinent. A day after the demolition of the mosque, on 7 December 1992, The New York Times reported that "30 Hindu temples across Pakistan" were attacked, some set on fire, and one demolished. The government of Pakistan closed school and offices in a day of protest. Hindu temples in Bangladesh were also attacked. Some of these Hindu temples that were partially destroyed during the retaliation of Babri Masjid have since remained that way. Further violence against Hindu structures in Pakistan was prevented by the Pakistan Army and local Muslim community.
A 1978 and 2003 archaeological excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) found evidence indicating that Hindu temple remains had existed on the site. Archeologist KK Muhammad accused several historians of undermining the findings. Over the years, various title and legal disputes also took place, such as the passage of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Ordinance, 1993. It was only after the 2019 Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya dispute that it was decided the disputed land be handed over to a trust formed by the Indian government for the construction of a Ram temple. The trust was eventually formed under the name Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra. Five acres of land was allocated for the mosque elsewhere in the city. On 5 February 2020, it was announced in the Parliament that the Narendra Modi government had accepted a plan to construct the temple.
Prior construction efforts
In the 1980s, the VHP collected funds and bricks with "Shree Ram" written on them. Later, the Rajiv Gandhi government gave the VHP permission for Shilanyas (the foundation stone ceremony), with the then Home Minister Buta Singh formally conveying the permission to the VHP leader Ashok Singhal. Initially the centre and state governments had agreed upon the conducting of the Shilanyas 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 was laid here. Kameshwar Chaupal (a Dalit leader from Bihar) became one of the first people to lay the stone.
Ram Lalla Virajman, the infant form of Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, is the presiding deity of the temple. Ram Lalla's dress is stitched by tailors Bhagwat Prasad and Shankar Lal; Shankar Lal is a fourth generation tailor to Rama's idol.
Ram Lalla was a litigant in the court case over the disputed site since 1989, being considered a "juristic person" by the law. He was represented by Triloki Nath Pandey, a senior VHP leader who was considered as Ram Lalla's next 'human' friend.
The original design for the Ram temple was prepared in 1988 by the Sompura family of Ahmedabad. The Sompuras have been part of the temple design of over 100 temples all over the world for at least 15 generations. The chief architect of the temple is Chandrakant Sompura. He was assisted by his two sons Nikhil Sompura and Ashish Sompura, who are also architects.
A new design, with some changes from the original, was prepared by the Sompuras in 2020, in accordance with vastu shastra and the shilpa shastras. The temple will be 235 feet wide, 360 feet long and 161 feet high. Once complete, the temple complex will be the world's third largest Hindu shrine. It is designed in the Nagara style of Indian temple architecture. A model of the proposed temple was showcased during the Prayag Kumbh Mela in 2019.
The main structure of the temple will be built on a raised platform and will have three storeys. It will have five mandapas in the middle of the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) and the entry — the three mandapas Kudu, Nritya, and Rang; and two mandapas for the Kirtan and Prarthana on the other side. In Nagara style, the mandapas are to be decorated with shikhara. The tallest Shikhara will be that above the Garbhagriha. The building will have a total of 366 columns. The columns will have 16 idols each to include the incarnations of Shiva, the Dashavataras, the chausath joginis, and the 12 incarnations of the goddess Saraswati. The width of the stairs will be 16 feet. In accordance with scriptures dedicated to the design of temples dedicated to Vishnu, the sanctum sanctorum will be octagonal. The temple will be built in 10 acres and 57 acres of land will be developed into a complex with a prayer hall, "a Ramkatha Kunj (lecture hall), a Vaidik Pathshala (educational facility), a Sant Niwas (saints' residence) and a Yatri Niwas (hostel for visitors)" and other facilities like a museum and a cafeteria.
The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust began the first phase of construction of the Ram Temple in March 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in India followed by the 2020 China–India skirmishes caused a temporary suspension of the construction. During ground-leveling and excavation of the construction site a Shivaling, pillars and broken idols were found. On 25 March 2020, Ram's idol was moved to a temporary location in the presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. In preparation for its construction, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad 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 the construction of the temple.
Larsen & Toubro offered to oversee the design and construction of the temple free of cost and is the contractor of the project. Central Building Research Institute, National Geophysical Research Institute and the Indian Institute of Technology (such as those Bombay, Guwahati and Madras) are assisting in areas such as soil testing, concrete and design. Reports emerged that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had identified a stream of the Sarayu which flows under the temple.
The construction work will be accomplished with 600 thousand cubic feet of sandstone Bansi mountain stones from Rajasthan. Thirty years ago, more than two hundred thousand bricks etched with the 'Sri Rama' in several languages had arrived from various parts of the country; these will be utilized in the foundation. Traditional techniques will be used to create the shrine while at the same time it will be made sure that the shrine will be strong enough to sustain natural calamities such as earthquakes. There will be no use of iron in the construction of the temple. The fusing of the stone blocks will require ten thousand copper plates.
Bhoomi Poojan ceremony
The temple construction officially started again after a Bhoomi Poojan ceremony on 5 August 2020. Three-day long Vedic rituals were held ahead of the ground-breaking ceremony, which revolved around the installation of a 40 kg silver brick as the foundation stone by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. On 4 August, the Ramarchan Puja was performed, an invitation to all the major gods and goddesses.
On the occasion of the Bhoomi-Pooja, soil and holy-water from several religious places across India, Triveni Sangam of rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati at Prayagraj, Kaveri river at Talakaveri, Kamakhya Temple in Assam and many others, were collected. Soil was also sent from various Hindu temples, Gurudwaras and Jain Temples across the nation to bless the upcoming temple. Among the many was Sharada Peeth located in Pakistan. Soil was also sent form the four pilgrimage locations of Char Dham. Temples in United States, Canada and Caribbean Islands held a virtual service to celebrate the occasion. Rama's image were shown at Times Square. All 7,000 temples in a 7 km radius of Hanumangarhi were also asked to join in the celebrations by lighting diyas. Muslims devotees in Ayodhya who consider Rama as their ancestor also looked forward to the bhoomi-puja. Spiritual leaders from all faiths were invited on the occasion.
On 5 August, Prime Minister Modi first offered prayers at Hanumangarhi to seek blessings of Hanuman for the day's events. Following this the ground breaking and foundation stone laying ceremony of Ram Mandir took place. Yogi Adityanath, Mohan Bhagwat, Nritya Gopal Das and Narendra Modi gave speeches. Modi started his speech with Jai Siya Ram and he went on to urge those in attendance to chant Jai Siya Ram. He stated, "the call of Jai Siya Ram is resonating not only in the city of Lord Ram but throughout the world today" and that "Ram Mandir will become the modern symbol of our traditions". Narendra Modi also paid his respects to the many who had made sacrifices for the Ram temple. Mohan Bhagwat also thanked L. K. Advani for his contributions to the movement to get the temple built. Modi also planted a sapling of the Parijat. In front of the deity, Modi performed a dandvat pranam/ sashtang pranam, lying completely prone on the ground with hands outstretched in prayer. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendees at the temple were limited to 175.
Reactions to the ground-breaking ceremony
Orthodox priests and religious leaders complained that the ceremony did not follow proper ritual procedures, pointing out, among others, that 5 August was not a ritually auspicious date and that the function did not include a havan. In this respect, writer Arundhati Roy pointed out that the chosen date marked one year since the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, arguing that the decision to schedule the ceremony for 5 August, an inauspicious date with no significance in the Hindu calendar, symbolized the conclusion of a period "in which India under Modi has formally declared itself a Hindu Nation, the dawning of a new era." Among the international community, Pakistan made an official statement through its Pakistan Foreign Office related to the temple. The Times of India also reported that post Ram Mandir ground–breaking, Pakistani Hindus fear violence in the same way as what happened in 1992.
Various Indian political leaders hailed the ground-breaking ceremony. While some openly celebrated it, others worded their statements carefully. Many expressed hope in furthering the country's progress by following the ideals of Ram. Soon after the ground-breaking ceremony, residents of Ayodhya expressed hope in improvements of job opportunities and development of the city, through tourism generated by the temple.
Nationwide crowdfunding and outreach
The temple trust has decided to launch a nationwide "mass contact and contribution campaign" aimed at reaching 55-60 crore people. Voluntary donations of ₹10 (14¢ US) and higher will be accepted. It will be an opportunity for followers of Ram to continue to be a part of the Janmabhoomi movement.
On 15 January 2021, President of India Ram Nath Kovind made the first contribution towards the construction of the Ram Mandir by donating ₹501,000 (US$7,000). Followed by several leaders and eminent personalities across the nation.
General Secretary of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, Champat Rai said that the trust is expected to have received donations of around ₹1,000,000,000 (US$14 million) as of 18 January 2021.
- Ayodhya dispute
- List of Hindu temples in India
- Conversion of non-Islamic places of worship into mosques
- Conversion of mosques into non-Islamic places of worship
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- Media related to Ram Mandir, Ayodhya at Wikimedia Commons