NATIONAL

Modern symbol of Indian Culture: Modi

The formal start of the temple’s construction comes almost 28 years after Babri Masjid was demolished by a mob of ‘kar sevaks’ on December 6, 1992.

Following a protracted legal dispute and aggressive Hindutva politics over it in the last three decades, the Supreme Court last November permitted the construction of a Ram temple at the site, where the Mughal-era mosque stood for four centuries and where Hindus believe Lord Ram was born. The Ram temple has long been a poll promise of the BJP which claimed power in Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre following the temple agitation since mid-1980s.

“With this temple, not only is new history being scripted, history is repeating itself,” Mr. Modi said.

Mr. Modi, who visited Ayodhya town for the first time since becoming Prime Minister, started his speech with the chants of ‘Jai Siyaram’ and ‘Siyavar Ram Chandra ki Jai’, in sync with the local tradition and departure from the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans popularised by advocates of the Ram temple movement, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad since the 1990s.

Just like August 15 was commemorated as the day of sacrifice and the will to be free displayed by many generations of Indians during the Independence struggle, the start of the Ram temple construction on August 5, 2020 was a “symbol of penance, sacrifice and resolve” of many generations that struggled for it for centuries, he said. Mr. Modi said Lord Ram was “embedded in our hearts” despite attempts to wipe out his legacy. “Buildings were destroyed. What not happened. All attempts were made to wipe out the existence. But Ram is still in our hearts. Ram is the basis of our culture,” the Prime Minister said.

After landing in Ayodhya, Mr. Modi first offered prayers at the Hanumangarhi temple before paying his obeisance and offering aarti before the idol of Ram Lalla at the Ram Janmabhoomi site, the first Prime Minister to do so. He also planted a ‘Parijat’ tree at the site and released a postage stamp on the temple.

“This day is testimony to the truth of the crores of Ram bhakts,” he said.

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