'Welcome' posters line the streets of Ayodhya ahead of the Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan ceremony set for Wednesday | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
'Welcome' posters line the streets of Ayodhya ahead of the Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan ceremony set for Wednesday | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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Ayodhya: The mahant of the Janaki Temple in Janakpur, Nepal, has been invited for the bhoomi pujan (ground breaking) ceremony for the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya Wednesday.

Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust general secretary Champat Rai said the mahant is among the 175 invitees for the ceremony, a list that also includes 135 saints representing 36 different spiritual traditions.

The invitation to the Janaki Temple mahant is significant because Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli had stoked controversy last month by claiming that the real birthplace of Lord Ram was not Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh but Thori, west of Birgunj, in his country. The Nepalese foreign ministry had been forced to issue a clarification about Oli’s statement, saying there was “no intention at all to hurt the feeling and sentiment of anyone”.

The Janaki Temple is dedicated to Ram’s wife, Sita, who is said to have hailed from that region and is also called Janaki as a derivative of her father Janak’s name.

“Saints from Nepal will also attend the event. Janakpur has a special relationship with Bihar, UP and Ayodhya. The mahant of the Janaki Temple will come,” Champat Rai said at a press conference Monday.


Also read: ‘Do gaz doori’ at Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan as trust prunes invite list amid Covid scare


The age factor

Invitations to the bhoomi pujan ceremony have been sent out, and the names mentioned on them include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, the head of the trust.

Rai said the organisers have taken care of age while drawing up the list of invitees.

“How will those above 90 years of age come? How will L.K. Advani ji come? We have also requested Kalyan Singh ji not to come due to age, and he agreed,” Rai said. “We spoke to both Advani ji and Murli Manohar Joshi ji. They expressed their inability to come on their own.”

Asked if many people were upset about not being invited, Rai said the organisers had to keep the list to a bare minimum due to the compulsions of the Covid-19 pandemic, so they apologised personally over the phone to all those who could not be invited.

He added that the trust has invited Iqbal Ansari, son of the original litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, and Padma Shri-awardee social worker Mohammed Sharif to the ceremony.

Security arrangements

Rai also spoke about the security arrangements that have been put in place for the high-profile ceremony.

Police check posts have been placed as far as 20 km outside the city of Ayodhya | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Police checkposts have been placed as far as 20 km outside the city of Ayodhya | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

“There is a security code on the invitation card; only one person is allowed per invitation card. No electronic devices will be allowed in the premises,” he said. “Everyone has to reach two hours before the Prime Minister’s arrival.”

The bhoomi pujan itself will take place between 12:30 pm and 2 pm at the site where the sanctum sanctorum of the temple will be built. “A stone plate will also be unveiled. The UP government has released a postage stamp of the temple model, which will also be unveiled by the Prime Minister,” Rai said.

He added that water from several rivers and the sea has been brought in for the bhoomi pujan.

“Many people have also brought water from Mansarovar. Sea water has also come from Rameshwaram to Sri Lanka. Water and soil have been brought from about 2,000 places,” he said.

Rai said the original model of the Ram Mandir will remain the same. “The stones carved in the workshop will be used first. When it is built, then a dome and a floor will be added,” he said.


Also read: Ram Mandir could cost ‘several hundred crores’ but trust building it has only Rs 15 cr for now


 

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