PM Returns To Ayodhya After 29 Years For Ram Temple Ceremony: 10 Points

Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan: PM Modi will lay a 40 kg silver brick to mark the symbolic start of a grand temple at what many believe is the birthplace of Lord Ram.

Ayodhya: The Ram Temple will be 161 feet tall and almost double the size of what was originally planned.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to Ayodhya after 29 years today for the "Bhoomi Pujan" or groundbreaking ceremony for a Ram temple. PM Modi, in a gold kurta and white dhoti, left by special aircraft for the mega ceremony that saw him lay a 40-kg silver brick later today to mark the symbolic start of a grand temple at what many believe is the birthplace of Lord Ram. The historic event showcases the triumph of one of India's longest campaigns, one that found resonance with millions in the country and abroad. The riverside Ayodhya town is a riot of colours for the event that also meets a decades-long promise, core to the ruling BJP's ideology.

Here are the top 10 updates on Ayodhya Ceremony:

  1. PM Modi arrived in Ayodhya on a chopper from Lucknow. After offering prayers at the Hanumangarhi temple - a shrine to Lord Hanuman - he will proceed to the Ramjanmabhoomi or birthplace of Lord Ram to pray at the shrine to "Ram Lalla", the infant Lord Ram. Every spot is decked with flowers and highlights different forms of art.

  2. PM Modi, who in 1990 was one of the organizers of the nationwide campaign for a temple at the site where the 16th-century Babri mosque once stood, will lay a silver brick as part of the groundbreaking ceremony. The temple campaign marked the emergence of the BJP as a national electoral force.

  3. Images released on Monday of the temple design showed a grand three-storey stone structure with multiple turrets, pillars and domes. The temple will be 161 feet tall. 

  4. Besides PM Modi, 50 VIPs including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Mohan Bhagwat - the chief of the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) -- will attend the ceremony. Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the temple-mosque dispute, was the first person to be invited. 

  5. Party veterans LK Advani - who led the Ram temple movement in the 1990s -- will attend through video-conference because of coronavirus precautions. The Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, tasked with building the temple, issued a last-minute invite to him and another prominent face of the movement, Murli Manohar Joshi.  

  6. The temple movement took centre stage in the 1990s with LK Advani's rath yatras to pitch for a Ram temple at the site where the 16th century Babri mosque stood. On December 6, 1992, the mosque was razed by activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple that marked the spot where the Lord Ram was born. More than 2,000 people died in the riots that followed.  

  7. Mr Advani, Mr Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh were among the BJP leaders accused of conspiracy and inflammatory speeches leading to the mosque-razing. The CBI claims the leaders had made incendiary speeches from a dais close to the mosque. The leaders have denied all charges. 

  8. Last year, after several efforts at mediation failed, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict handing over the 2.77 acres of land claimed by both Hindus and Muslims for a Ram temple. The court ordered a five-acre plot at a different site in Ayodhya for a mosque.

  9. Today's festivities, held at a time recommended by astrologers, are vastly curtailed because of the coronavirus battle with over 50,000 daily infections. Home Minister Amit Shah, has been hospitalized with the virus. A priest and 14 policemen on duty near the temple site have also tested positive.

  10. Some 175 spiritual leaders will also attend the ceremony to be beamed onto large screens around the country and even on the huge displays at Times Square in New York. Soil from almost 2,000 holy sites around India and water of around 100 holy rivers will be used in the foundations.