Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the new Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya Aug. 5, 2020, with a silver brick and a limited in-person audience of some 175 select invitees observing the limits placed by the raging coronavirus pandemic that has already registered 2 million cases.
Around the country, Indians watched the ceremony online and on television which gave wall-to-wall coverage. Despite officials’ efforts to observe COVID protocols, crowds of supporters and devotees gathered outside the venue, most of them not wearing masks, and cheered when they saw Modi entering the site, BBC reported.
News coverage showed a city decorated for the festive occasion with flowers and flags in yellow and saffron. Some 3,500 law enforcement personnel were deployed around the temple site, Times of India reported. Reports also said Hindus from around the country had been sending silver and gold toward building the temple. As many as 200,000 bricks inscribed with “Shri Ram” had been collected from devotees over the years, Times of India reported.
Among the attendees were Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, as well as Rashtriya Swayam Sevak chief Mohan Bhagwat, and senior BJP leaders, though Home Minister Amit Shah was conspicuous by his absence having been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Some Muslim leaders were also invited, according to news reports. Modi also released a stamp to commemorate the occasion and unveiled a plaque at the site.
After decades of conflict and civil unrest as well as litigation over the land, the Indian Supreme Court ruled ten months ago that Hindus, who believe the site in Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, be allowed to build a temple there..The court also ordered five acres of land be demarcated for use by Muslims to build an alternate mosque as the Babri Masjid that had been located on the site since the 16th century, had been demolished during civil unrest in 1992.
The event was organized by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra (Trust).
Celebrations and prayers were conducted on the same day, Aug. 5, in cities around the world by Hindu devotees. A large gathering of mostly Indians and Indian-American devotees and supporters of Modi, took place in Times Square in New York City. And Hindu temples around the U.S. held virtual prayers.
“You can see that there are plenty of our Indian-American friends (at Times Square) and they are also enjoying the celebration of the Bhoomi Pujan of the Ram temple. So let us enjoy it, celebrate it, and be grateful to the Gods that we had the opportunity to witness this event in our lifetime,” said Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman and publisher of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, which covered the Times Square event live.
The Hindu newspaper, quoting the Vishwa Hindu Parishad as a source, said the new mandir would be built in three years.
After performing the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ Prime Minister Modi gave a rousing speech calling the occasion the start of a ‘glorious’ chapter in India’s history, and equated the inauguration day to India’s independence day on August 15, a day for which people had struggled for generations to achieve. He credited “Ram Bhakts” for the temple, and praised the restraint shown by all communities when the Supreme Court passed its judgement.
Modi also called the temple a ‘modern’ symbol of India’s culture, one that will bring several opportunities across sectors and change the economy of the region.
Prime Minister ended by recalling the significance of the path of self restraint, ‘maryada’ of Shree Ram in the backdrop of the COVID situation. He said that the current situation demands the maryada to be ‘do gaz ki doori – mask hai zaroori’ and exhorted everyone to follow the same.
Most Recent Chronology of Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir
2016- After the formation of the BJP government at the centre, former Union Minister Subramanian Swamy files a petition in the apex court seeking construction of Ram Temple at the site per Supreme Court ruling.
August 7, 2017- The top court constitutes a three-judge bench for hearings, but the panel fails to come to any conclusion within the 8 week period allotted.
August 6, 2019- The top court begins marathon daily hearing which goes on for 40 days.
November 9, 2019- The Supreme Court delivers its verdict. The SC rules that the land belongs to Ram Lalla and orders the government to provide an alternative five-acre land to the Sunni Waqf Board.
February 5, 2020- Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces the formation of a 15 member Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Committee to oversee construction of a Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Also in February, following the Supreme Court order, the Uttar Pradesh government allotts a 5-acre plot in Dhannipur village along the Lucknow-Ayodhya highway to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of a new mosque in Ayodhya district.
February 19, 2020- Ram Mandir Trust appoints office bearers.
August 5, 2020- PM Modi conducts bhumi pujan at Ayodhya and lays foundation stone.
2020 – 2023 – Temple Construction; Architect – Chandrakant Sompura; Architect Style – Nagaara (big drum) Style; Temple Size – double the original plan; Number of Domes – Five; Shikhar – Tower over the sanctum sanctorum; Temple Height – 161 Feet; Stairs Width – 16 Feet
(Compiled by Archana Adalja)
EXCERPTS FROM PM MODI’S SPEECH AT SHREE RAM JANMABHOOMI MANDIR AUG. 5, 2020
Siyawar Ramachandra ki Jai! Siyawar Ramachandra ki Jai!
Jai Siyaram! Jai Siyaram! Jai Siyaram!
Today this call is reverberating not only in this Ayodhya, the city of Lord Rama, but its resonance is being felt across the entire globe.
On this monumental occasion, I etend my heartfelt greetings to all the ardent devotees of Lord Rama, my fellow countrymen and the crores of Indian nationals spread across the continents. …
Today, the Ram Janmabhoomi has become free from the centuries-old chain of destruction and resurrection. …
There was not a place in our country where sacrifices were not made for the freedom. 15th August is the embodiment of sacrifices of the lakhs of people and a deep yearning for the independence.
Similarly, several generations have made self-less sacrifices for several centuries for the construction of the Ram Temple. Today marks the culmination of that centuries-old penance, sacrifices and resolve. …
Shree Ram Temple would be the modern symbol of our culture and I am intentionally using the word ‘modern’. It will symbolise our eternal hope. It will epitomise our national feeling. …
Once the shrine is constructed, not only the grandeur of Ayodhya would become multi-fold but the entire economy of this region would undergo massive transformation. There would be new avenues &new opportunities in every sector.
Imagine people from across the world would visit here. Entire world would come here for the darshan of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. How radically things will transform here! …
This day is a unique gift from the law abiding India to truth, non-violence, faith &sacrifice.
Owing to the situation caused by the Corona pandemic, this occasion of Bhoomi Poojan is being organised with a strict decorum. …
We displayed a similar discipline when the Supreme Court pronounced the historic decision. Back then we witnessed how the entire nation accepted the decision peacefully and graciously keeping in mind the sensitivities of everybody. Even today we are experiencing the similar peaceful conduct. …
This devotion of India and the unity of the people of India and this great strength of the Unity of India is something that the world needs to study & analyse. …
Lord Ram made social harmony as the keystone of his rule. …
Rama had equal love for his people but he had a special attention towards the poor and the oppressed. …
Thousands of years ago, the Rama who was an inspiration to the ancient India as depicted in Valmiki’s Ramayana, the Rama who was inspiring India through Tulsi, Kabir and Nanak in the Medieval era, the same Rama was present in the Bapu’sbhajans during the fight for freedom in the form of non-violence and satyagraha.
Tulsi’s Rama was with form (sagun) while Nanak & Kabir’s Rama was formless (nirgun).
Lord Buddha was also connected to Lord Ram. At the same time, this city of Ayodhya has also been the center of Jain religion for centuries. This is the ubiquity of Ram, it reflects the unity in diversity that is of India! …
Friends, many countries of the world are saluting Lord Rama, their citizens believe themselves to be affiliated to Lord Rama. …
Lord Rama teaches – “no one should be sad, no one should remain poor”.
Lord Rama gives social message that all the people, both men & women should be equally happy. Lord Rama gives message “Farmers, Cowherds should always remain happy”. Lord Rama orders “the old, the children and the doctors should always be protected.” …
Lord Rama teaches us how to grow and move with time.
Lord Rama is the advocate of change and modernity.
India is moving ahead today profoundly with these inspirations, these ideals of Lord Rama. …
We need to develop a confident and self reliant India with the help of our efforts and resolution.
Friends, Lord Rama states in Tamil Ramayana, “we need not delay, we need to move ahead”.
Lord Rama has the same message for today’s India and all of us. …
The self- restraint way of Lord Rama is much more needed today in the situation of Corona Pandemic. We need to maintain the safe distance of two yards and always wear a mask.
I pray to Lord Rama that to keep my country healthy and happy.
Source: Press Information Bureau (pib.gov.in)