Ram temple takes centre-stage ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha poll

Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the consecration ceremony in the Ram Temple at Ayodhya on January 22 has taken centre-stage. Some opposition leaders have accused the ruling party of “politicising” the religious event and refused to accept the invitation to the ceremony while the latter has termed it as disrespect to Hindu religion.  To add fuel to fire, there are reports that four ‘Shankaracharyas’ decided not to attend the consecration ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya and there have been differences among them. However,Puri Shankaracharya Nischalananda Saraswati has reportedly said: “It’s false; there are no differences between the four ‘Shankaracharyas’  over the Ram Temple ‘pran pratishtha’ ceremony in Ayodhya.”

Tehelka cover story in this issue “Ram Mandir: BJP braces for new poll pitch”, is about how Ayodhya is now gearing up for the grand ceremony at the temple with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing  he would undertake an 11-day ritual and dedicate himself to the will of God.  The PM has said God has chosen him as an instrument to represent all Indians during the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ exercise and that he is undertaking the special religious exercise keeping this in mind before the grandeur of divine task.

As it seems, all roads in Ayodhya will, proverbially, lead to the Ram temple and the revamped city, which now has a new infrastructure including a modern airport, a railway station, the Ram Path, Dharma Path, Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Path and Bhakti Path. As a journalist with the Indian Express group at Lucknow, I was witness to the narrow and congested streets that existed there previously.  The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, responsible for the Ram Mandir, has extended invitation cards for ‘pran pratishtha’ featuring a silhouette of the temple to over 7,000 individuals including 4,000 seers from various parts of the country. For those who would not be able to reach on the day itself, have been asked to light ‘diyas’ in their houses on January 22 so that the whole country basks in glory. How the frenzy has gripped the populace, could be understood from another fact that the social media handle of the temple in X has surpassed the number of followers of any other Hindu temple in India or elsewhere.

Amidst all the religious frenzy it should not be forgotten that the construction of the temple is the logical result of the Supreme Court judgment.  For those who struggled for the Ram temple at Ayodhya which they believe is the exact spot of Sri Ram’s birth where a Muslim place of worship stood there for 464 years before it was demolished in 1992, it is time to forget the acrimonies of the past and look forward to a secular co-existence and harmonious living among all the religious communities!