India Prepares to Inaugurate Ram, A north Indian town is gearing up for a major event next week, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a massive Hindu temple that represents the country’s growing Hindu cultural nationalism, often known as Hindutva.
India Prepares to Inaugurate Ram Temple on Site of Demolished Mosque
The great temple in Ayodhya, India will be inaugurated on Monday, January 22. The temple, devoted to the Hindu deity Lord Ram, is on the site of a wrecked 16th-century mosque. Some Hindu leaders have started calling the place the “Hindu Vatican.”
Many Hindus believe Ram was born in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, right where the mosque now stands, and that Muslim invaders erected it on the ruins of an earlier Ram temple.
In 1992, a right-wing Hindu mob destroyed the Babri Masjid mosque, sparking sectarian riots that killed around 2,000 people across the country.
After decades of legal battles between Hindus and Muslims, India’s Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the site belonged to Hindus, resulting in a victory for Hindu groups and Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
When the temple, constructed of 600,000 cubic feet of pink sandstone and white marble for $180 million, is finished — reportedly by the end of next year — it will be the country’s largest Hindu temple.
The week-long consecration of the Ram temple began on Tuesday, marking the commencement of the process that will climax with Modi’s inauguration of the temple on Monday when the statue of Ram will be enthroned in its sanctum-sanctorum.
Ayodhya, renowned for centuries as a quiet temple town, is preparing to become a thriving magnet for Hindu religious travelers.
The village has undergone a dramatic transformation, with roads enlarged, ornate arched gates installed, and colorful murals commemorating occurrences in Ram’s life painted on the walls. A new airport in Ayodhya opened this month, and the town’s train station has been extended.
The temple trust has invited over 7,500 prominent Hindu religious and political leaders, Bollywood stars, sports figures, businesspeople, and others to the celebration.
The ritual will be live-streamed, allowing Hindus from all across the country and worldwide to watch. The Ayodhya inauguration will also be broadcast live from Indian embassies throughout the world, as well as a sponsored screen in Times Square in New York.
Schools in various Indian states have declared a holiday on Monday. The federal government likewise announced a half-day at all its offices that day.
World’s Holiest Place for Hindus
Rabindra Narain Singh, president of India’s largest Hindu organization, Vishva Hindu Parishad, stated that with the construction of the Ram temple, Ayodhya will become the holiest Hindu destination in the world.
“Ram’s birthplace will be developed for the Hindus the way the Vatican City and Mecca were done for Christians and Muslims,” Singh said in a statement.
In a recent address, Modi stated that the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya would be the beginning of India’s cultural resurgence.
“The entire world is looking forward to the historical event that will take place in Ayodhya on January 22.” “We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to witness such a historic event in our lifetime,” Modi stated.
Since the demolition of the Babri Masjid three decades ago, the BJP has made the construction of the Ram Mandir the centerpiece of its electoral campaign pledges. Modi is inaugurating the temple in Ayodhya before the important general elections, which will be place in April and May, with his party aiming for a record third straight term.
Inauguration a Component of a Political Plan?
Opponents of Modi argue that the temple’s inauguration is part of a political effort to incite religious fervor to increase Hindu votes in the upcoming elections.
Many opposition politicians have declined invitations to Monday’s event, claiming that the inauguration of the incomplete shrine ahead of the election was a political ploy. The BJP has labeled the opposition leaders as “anti-Hindu” for refusing to attend the inaugural ceremony.
The opening of the temple, according to Modi’s detractors, is part of a political plot to inflame religious feelings to increase the number of Hindu votes in the next elections.
Many opposition politicians have declined invitations to attend Monday’s celebration, claiming that the opening of the incomplete shrine ahead of the election was a political ploy.
The opposition leaders’ refusal to attend the inauguration ceremony has earned them the label of “anti-Hindu” from the BJP.
Leading Hindu religious figures have attacked Modi and his party for allegedly utilizing the Ram Mandir inauguration for “political gains.”
Consecration of a temple is carried out by seers and saints, according to Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, one of the four Shankaracharyas, or leaders of the nation’s four most prominent Hindu monasteries.
“However, in this instance, the prime minister is performing the consecration ceremony, defying religious custom. “I’m not going to the Ayodhya ceremony,” declared Saraswati.
The opening of the Ram Mandir is being sponsored and attended by the federal and state governments of Uttar Pradesh, according to social activist and academic Apoorvanand, who goes by one name.
This is blatantly against India’s secular principles, which forbid the union of the state with any religion or religious endeavor. The event’s principal host is none other than the prime minister. Apoorvanand said to VOA, “The governments are supporting a religious program.”
“It marks the end of secular India, symbolically and substantively.”
Muslims Experience Marginalization
A plot of land 25 kilometers distant was given to Muslims so they may construct a mosque in the wake of the 2019 Supreme Court ruling. That mosque’s construction is still in its early stages.
Millions of rupees are being spent by the Uttar Pradesh [UP] government to develop Ayodhya’s Hindu sacred sites. However, it has not backed the mosque’s development,” Ayodhya-based Muslim organization head Muhammad Azam Qadri told VOA.
“In Ayodhya, we are not even permitted to repair the scores of run-down mosques. Land grabbers are targeting a lot of mosques, cemeteries, and other Muslim landmarks in Ayodhya.
Our requests to assist in safeguarding the properties owned by Muslims are being ignored by the authorities. I’m not sure if Muslims will ever be allowed to reside in Ayodhya.”
Despite leading a secular nation, Modi set the groundwork for the Ram Mandir in 2020 and would soon unveil it, according to Zafar ul-Islam Khan, a prominent member of the Muslim minority and the former chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission.
“Hindu fanatics now feel more confident after destroying the Babri Mosque and building the Ram Temple in its place. They will now attempt to claim ownership of numerous more ancient mosques by stating that they were constructed on the place of destroyed temples, Khan told VOA.
According to him, courts are still considering lawsuits from Hindutva organizations in spite of a 1991 law that ensures the preservation of places of worship’s August 1947 status.