New Delhi: The ground-breaking ceremony of Ram Temple Wednesday will be a Deepavali celebration for the entire Hindu community, Sadhvi Ritambhara has said.
In an interview to ThePrint, Ritambhara said the people who have contributed towards the temple can’t be forgotten, and the role of major leaders, who were associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and have now receded to the background, can’t be ignored even if they are not present at the event.
Ritambhara was one of the key figures in the movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, along with other Hindutva leaders like L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and former VHP chief Ashok Singhal. She is one of the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
Ritambhara said the presence of everyone is not required as all are ecstatic that the movement is now reaching its conclusion. She said the “struggle” was to establish the “faith and self-respect” that had remained shattered for 500 years.
She also said political conspiracies are thriving in India, adding that people who oppose Lord Rama in public worship him in private.
On movement leaders and their presence at 5 Aug event
The Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust has not invited Advani and Joshi for the Wednesday ceremony. While the trust has said it’s due to Covid, the move has sparked a controversy about senior leaders of the movement being ignored.
Ritambhara said, “Whoever contributed to the Ram temple movement never harboured expectations of adulation reserved for heroes… It has been observed that whatever lies on the peaks remains visible and shines brightly. But those who lay the groundwork remain hidden. But a peak cannot exist without a foundation.”
However, she added, “All the important people of this programme will be in Ayodhya.”
Due to the Covid crisis, the programme is not being held on a grand scale. “People are so ecstatic about the bhoomi pujan programme that it doesn’t matter whether they are physically present or not,” she said.
“On 5 August, Ayodhya will become the home to all Hindus in the country. An idol of Lord Ram will be established in the hearts of everyone. The entire country will celebrate Deepavali. Even if I had not have been invited, I wouldn’t have had a problem,” she said.
Ritambhara said she will go to Ayodhya Tuesday. “I will witness the ritual and the bhoomi pujan programme on 5 August,” she said. On her way, she will pick up soil from the courtyard of a 118-year-old house in Agra where ex-VHP chief Ashok Singhal was born.
“I will offer this to the soil in Ayodhya and this will ensure Ashok ji’s presence there,” she said.
Talking about the movement, she said, “I contributed like a squirrel under the leadership of many great saints and leaders… This movement took place under the leadership of many great saints, including Ashok Singhal ji. Today, they may not be present with us physically but their soul will definitely be present in Ayodhya. Many people had lived up to their resolution to build the Ram temple.”
On ‘struggle for broken self-respect’
Ritambhara said the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was a “struggle by our ancestors to establish the faith and self-respect that had lay shattered for 500 years”.
“Now when the struggle is about to end, that in itself is a source of great joy. We have decided that no matter how much troubles we face, we will continue moving forward,” she said.
“Our temples were demolished in that era. Our beliefs and idols were destroyed. But when the problems passed, we worked to rebuild our beliefs in the same ruins. The temple of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi has been neglected continuously for 500 years. At this time, everyone has proved their resolve,” said Ritambhara.
“On 5 August, we are going to create a new history in India. The happiness is such that it cannot be expressed in words,” she said.
On the importance of Lord Ram in India, and for the Hindu society, she said, “Lord Ram is the embodiment of how a man should live… He has taught people how to live. It can be gleaned from the life of Lord Ram that objects are a means to an end and the attainment of truth is the ultimate destination. For the entire world’s humanity, Lord Ram’s ideals are the apogee of inspiration.”
‘Ram in homes but opposition outside’
Speaking about questions on the existence of Lord Ram, the Hindutva leader targeted those who “mock” belief systems prevalent in the country.
“In the name of pseudo-secularism, these people play political games in India. Many people worship Lord Ram inside their houses but they take an opposing stance outside their homes for the sake of politics,” she said.
“Political conspiracies are thriving in India. India has suffered a lot due to this. The identities of those who have questioned Lord Ram’s existence are themselves scattered. Who are they to raise questions on the existence of Lord Ram?”
She said the ground-breaking ceremony is just the first step in the construction of a grand Ram temple, which will be handled by the VHP and the trust.
“We still have a long way to go. We have to visit the remotest alleys and villages for Ram Rajya. We have to bring a smile on the face of each person. We will work towards eradicating discrimination in this country. The Ram temple is one milestone, there are many milestones left,” she said.
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