Ayodhya: Weather in Ayodhya turned pleasant after light spells of rain on Wednesday morning as the fortress city awaits Ram Temple bhoomipujan with invitees pouring in from all around the country to witness foundation stone laying ceremony by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has left for Ayodhya en route Lucknow from New Delhi and is expected to reach the city at around 1130 hrs.
In Lucknow, Mr Modi will be greeted by Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who will then accompany the Prime Minister to the main event in Ayodhya before stopping at Hanumangarhi for about seven minutes.
Mr Modi will visit Ram Lalla temple after almost 29 years. His last visit was made in 1991.
He will be the first Prime Minister to visit the birthplace of Ram Temple.
Numerous saints and seers, who have reached here for the function, took a dip in the Saryu river in the morning and reached the venue several hours before the scheduled time to avoid security hiccups.
On the eve of the Bhoomipujan on Tuesday night, a grand aarti was performed at ‘Ram ke Pedi’ on the banks of river Saryu with over 1.5 lakh earthen diyas lighting the entire area.
Painted in yellow hue the temple town of Ayodhya has been decked up for the groundbreaking ceremony that would pave the way for construction of Ram Temple at the Ram Janmabhoomi Complex.
In Lucknow too, the official residence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was illuminated and crackers were burst to celebrate the occasion.
Earlier, the religious rituals of Ramacharan puja in four phases were completed in which priests worshipped all the family members of Lord Ram, including his brothers, wife and others. The rituals commenced on Monday and it will end this afternoon with the Bhoomipujan.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat along with Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev has arrived in Ayodhya to attend the ceremony.
“The foundation stone function will start at 12.30 pm and the ‘Shila’ (stone) will be laid between 12.44 and 12.45 pm after offering prayers to Lord Ganesha,” Champat Rai, General Secretary of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust told this reporter.
The PM will lay a 40-kg silver brick to symbolise the start of construction of the Ram Temple – that is core to the ruling BJP’s ideology and poll promises. A campaign for the temple marked the rise of the party to the national spotlight in the 1990s.
Mr Rai said that religious functions like different pujas have started including Ramarchan Puja, where prayers are held to invite all major gods and goddesses who consider Lord Ram as their ‘Ishth’ (the god of worship). Vedic saints are conducting the prayers facing Ramlalla on his temporary seat, Rai said.
The city has been turned into a fortress with barricades put up across the main thoroughfare of Ayodhya – particularly those lanes which connect the city to Ram Janmabhoomi Complex. The jawans of the paramilitary force are deployed around the city. The shops are closed. The roadside eateries have downed their shutters but the residents are not complaining.
The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, which is the main organiser, has sent an invitation to just 175 people. Prime Minister is among the 175 people who will be present at the ceremony. He will share the dais with just four other people — RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, trust chief Nritya Gopaldas Maharaj, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and CM Yogi Adityanath. In keeping with Covid-19 norms, seating arrangements have been made in a way that all invitees will sit at a distance of six feet.
Champat Rai said that the invitees include 135 religious leaders from 36 spiritual traditions across the country.
Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the decades-old temple-mosque dispute, was the first person to be invited. “I will certainly attend it. The dispute is over now after the court verdict,” Ansari said.
His father Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the case, died in 2016.
The Ram Temple will be built after years of dispute over the 2.77-acre site where the 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was razed in 1992 by Hindu activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram.
On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the site would be handed over for the building of a temple and an alternate five-acre site would be given to Muslims for the construction of the mosque, putting an end to the decades-long political and religious dispute.