Grim Reality of Ayodhya

Deepotsav Is A Political Tactic To Keep Ayodhya Issue Alive

Ghufran Ray,Co-founder of Awadh Peoples’ Forum, says the blitzkrieg of Diwali event hides the grim truth of the marginalized people of Ayodhya

The Deepotsav event of Ayodhya may have got the city into the Guinness Book of World Records but it is not a part of local culture or tradition. It started in 2017 when Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. And there were multiple motives behind this plan.

Initially, it sought to mend the negative perception attached to Ayodhya in people’s minds. Ayodhya has traditionally been a Hindu religious center but after the Babri masjid demolition, it came to be largely seen as a site of communal conflict. Things changed after the final judgment in Ayodhya dispute by the Supreme Court of India on 9 November 2019 which handed over the land to a trust to build the Ram temple.

This also brought an end to the political journey of the Ram Mandir issue. The issue that had brought BJP into power lost its relevance and sustainability. With the Ram Janmbhoomi issue over, the saffron politicians thought of a novel idea to keep the cauldron on fire by lighting record earthen lamps on Diwali. With an eye the 2024 General Elections, the objective was to pep up the locals’ spirit so that Ram Mandir keeps paying political dividends until the next polls.

Thus, Deepotsav is essentially a political event. But we also need to know the cost of this. For example, around a thousand street vendors and shopkeepers in Faizabad have been permanently displaced due to PM’s security during his visit on October 23rd. I went to the market on Dhanteras, that is a day before the big event, and it was like COVID days. The petty shopkeepers who usually depend on the festive season for extra income were deprived of even regular trade. A thousand local families could not celebrate Diwali this year in Faizabad just because the government was hell-bent to make a world record.

ALSO READ: ‘Deepotsav Is A Visual Treat And Spiritual Experience’

The most astonishing feature of this Deepotsav was the procurement of 12 truckloads of flowers not from domestic markets but from cities as far as Kolkata and Bengaluru, and from Indonesia. Flowers were laid on Faizabad roads on which PM’s convoy drove upon. Faizabad Municipal Corporation had to twice float the tenders due to complete the project. Overnight, all the potholes on the highway that connects the city to the airport were filled. That is probably the only benefit for the road users.

A piece of news published in Amar Ujala on September 23rd said the government will forcefully acquire 25 acres of land for the development of an international airport. Thereafter economic activities and land deals have picked up in the adjoining rural areas of Ayodhya. People from Gujarat, Pune, and Mumbai have already arrived in the city and they are opening hotels. This will eventually impact the local livelihood. Small-time traders, vendors, and shopkeepers will gradually turn into labour and migrate to big cities. No local is going to get any benefit out of this so-called development!

So the politics of Deepotsav and the development of Ayodhya are both interconnected. This lethal combination will kick out people who are already on the margins. Watch out for the number of battery rickshaws in Faizabad since COVID. People who came back distressed from cities could not return. They lost their jobs, took small loans, and purchased e-rickshaws.

Events like Deepotsav are essentially designed to suppress and cover up popular dissatisfaction. Obviously, well-off traders, mall owners, showroom holders, and forward-class people benefit from this kind of development and politics but the marginalised like farmers, Dalits, and Muslims are nowhere in sight. Through Deepotsav and Guinness Book, the Government wants to project that all people in Faizabad and Ayodhya have joined hands in this great endeavor. Reality is just the opposite. People have fallen out but the government is trying to show that things are hunky dory. Deepotsav is just one of those bright silver screen that hides the grim truth.

As told to Abhishek Srivastava

Ram Mandir Construction

Ram Mandir Construction In Full Speed: Modi In Ujjain

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that the grand Ram temple in Ayodhya, whose foundation stone was laid in August 2020, is being built at full speed.

The darshan of Ram Lalla for devotees is likely to be open by December 2023, and the construction work of the Pilgrimage Facilitation Centre, other utilities and infrastructure services in the complex is at a fast pace.
As per the present estimate, the total construction cost of the temple and complex will be approximately Rs 1800 crore.

“The construction of the grand Shri Ram temple in Ayodhya is going on at full speed. Vishwanath Dham in Kashi is adding pride to India’s culture. Record development happening at Somnath, Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines,” said PM Modi at the inauguration of Shri Mahakal Lok in Ujjain.

On August 5, 2020, PM Modi laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Ram temple and since then the construction work of the temple is going on.

The foundation stone for the construction of Ram Temple’s ‘Garbha Griha’ or the sanctum sanctorum of the temple was laid by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in June this year.

The five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi (now retired) had on November 9, 2019, unanimously delivered its verdict that the land in Ayodhya where Babri Masjid once stood, belongs to Ram Lalla.

At the inauguration of Shri Mahakal Lok in Ujjain, the Prime Minister said that the glory of Mahakaleshwar was restored.

“We are restoring the glory of spiritual places. Ujjain has been the centre of India’s spiritual ethos. Ujjain is not just India’s geographic centre but also the centre of the country’s soul. There is nothing ordinary in the company of Lord Shiva. Everything is supernatural and extraordinary. Unforgettable, unbelievable,” he said.

Noting that the grandeur of Mahalkal Lok is unparalleled and will add impetus to the global cultural significance of the country, PM Modi said the development of Jyotirlingas is powering India’s spiritual consciousness.

“The grandeur of Mahalkal Lok is unparalleled and this will add impetus to the global cultural significance of the country,” he said.

The Prime Minister said Ujjain has led prosperity and knowledge in India for thousands of years.

“Spirituality is contained in every particle and divine energy is being transmitted in every corner of Ujjain. Ujjain has led India’s prosperity, knowledge, dignity and literature for thousands of years,” said PM Modi at the inauguration of Shri Mahakal Lok in Ujjain.

PM Modi dedicated Shri Mahakal Lok in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain to the nation. The total cost of Phase I of the project is around Rs 850 crore.

PM said that the grandeur of Mahalkal Lok is unparalleled and this will add impetus to the global cultural significance of the country adding that Several centres of spirituality are now being renovated.

“During the Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal, we broke the shackles of colonialism with the spirit of Panch Pran. Today, cultural destinations across India are seeing all-around development. For the first time, Char Dham is being connected with all-weather roads,” he said.

The Prime minister said the first time since Independence, roads are developed and an ‘All-weather highway development project’ is undertaken to connect all four Dhams under the Char Dham Project.

“The magnificence of our olden Konark temple, Modhera temple, Brahma Deveshwar temple, and Shankaracharya temple is unmatchable,” he said.

He said that for India, Dharm means completion of Duties and our duties are service to the world, service to humanity. (ANI)

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The Jhoolewala At Ram Mandir

Aslam, The Jhoolewala At Ram Mandir-Themed Ramlila, Spreads Joys

Bustling noises of cheers and laughter echo on the grounds of Lav Kush Ramlila as the annual festivities of Dussehra make their way to people’s calendars every year.
Today is Vijayadashami. It is that time of year when Ramlilas, the theatrical enactments of Lord Rama’s life, are performed in various corners of the country, fun fairs are held, crowds swarm to see Ravan effigies burst into flames, and the aroma of traditional sweets fills the air.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the past two years were a blow to small-scale businesses and vendors. But this year’s Navaratri, the nine auspicious nights preceding the Dussehra festival, has returned to the good old charm of festive love and celebrations.

Among many who spread joy is a man who brings smiles to people’s faces with the merry-go-round and giant Ferris Wheels!

Known to have been one of the best in business for four decades, Mohammed Aslam gives the magical touch to Lav Kush Ramlila every year with fun amusement rides.

“I have worked with Luv Kush Ramlila committee since 1992 and plan to keep working with them because I get a lot of respect here,” said Mohammed Aslam as he expressed his gratitude.

Like many business establishments that suffered at the hands of COVID-19, he emphasized how the pandemic played a spoilsport for his business in the past two years as well- “past two years, in fact, were quite stressful in terms of business.” Not just me, my staffers were also distressed due to the lockdown.”

However, a few minutes later, he exuberantly expressed how well the business is picking up and that he is extremely happy to see Ramlila making a comeback this year!

Mohammed Aslam, a resident of the walled city, conducts many fairs across the Hindi heartland but says he is happiest during Ramlila because of the joy and brotherhood the festival binds people with.

Luv Kush Ramlila is held at the iconic Lal Qila (Red Fort) every year and thousands of people gather at the Mughal-era fort to eagerly watch the pages of Ramayana come to life.

Not just that, gorging on fantastic street food delicacies, taking an adrenaline-pumping fun ride, and just soaking in the festive mood with loved ones, make it an exciting place for people from all walks of life—age, gender, and religion no bar. This year’s specialty, however, lies in the beauty of the backdrop of the Ram Lila—a replica of the famous Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

Talking about the schedule this year, Ramlila began on September 26 and will culminate with a special appearance of ‘Baahubali’ superstar Prabhas on Wednesday. (ANI)

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