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India Inaugurates Grand Temple to Lord Ram in Ayodhya Amidst Celebrations and Controversy

240122152928 03 ayodhya temple inauguration


India Inaugurates Grand Temple to Lord Ram in Ayodhya Amidst Celebrations and Controversy

In a momentous event that marks a new chapter in India’s history, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a grand temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram in the city of Ayodhya, a site of long-standing religious and political significance.

The inauguration of the temple, constructed at the controversial site of a 16th-century mosque demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992, signals the fulfillment of a longstanding pledge by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a move heralded by Modi as the dawn of “a new era” for India. The demolition of the Babri mosque had sparked riots leading to nearly 2,000 deaths, highlighting the country’s deep religious and communal divisions.

Despite the festive atmosphere marked by chanting devotees, flower-petal showers from military helicopters, and the presence of top film stars and cricketers, the event has not been without its critics. Some Hindu seers and opposition parties boycotted the event, accusing Modi of using the temple for political gain ahead of the general elections.

The temple’s construction has cost approximately $217 million, funded through private donations, and is part of a larger $3 billion revamp planned for Ayodhya. The temple, made of pink sandstone and black granite, covers 7.2 acres in a 70-acre complex and houses a 51-inch statue of Lord Ram.

The event, televised live, featured Modi performing religious rituals alongside priests and Mohan Bhagwat, head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This ceremony, known as Pran Pratishtha, is believed to infuse sacred life into an idol or photograph of a deity.

The inauguration has resonated not only in India but across the world, with celebrations reported in the United Kingdom, the United States, and even in Muslim-majority Dubai, where Indians form a significant part of the population.

The Supreme Court’s 2019 decision to grant the disputed land to Hindus, while allotting a separate plot for a mosque outside the city, has brought closure to a protracted legal battle but continues to evoke mixed emotions among different communities.

With Ayodhya’s transformation into a major pilgrimage and tourist destination, the city is undergoing extensive development, including new hotels, an airport, and a railway station. However, this development has come at a cost for some local residents, whose homes and shops have been affected by the expansion projects.

The Ayodhya temple inauguration, while a moment of triumph for many Hindus, remains a complex symbol of India’s religious and cultural diversity, reflecting the ongoing challenges of balancing secularism with religious sentiments in the world’s largest democracy.

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