AYODHYA, INDIA – In a historic event, the consecration (Pran Pratishtha) ceremony of the Ram Mandir temple in Ayodhya was held on Monday, January 22nd 2024, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The extravagant Hindu temple has been under construction since 2020 on the disputed Babri Masjid site following a Supreme Court verdict. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to preside over the ‘pran-pratishtha’ consecration ceremony at the long-awaited Ram Mandir in Ayodhya today, January 22nd 2024. The grand event marks the symbolic completion of the temple construction at the disputed Babri Masjid site, which Hindus believe to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. A 51-inch Ram Lalla idol was placed in the inner sanctum on January 18th in preparation for today’s ritual. Over 7,000 VVIP guests including prominent figures across various fields are attending the auspicious ceremony which begins at 12:20 PM. The imposing three-level stone temple covers over 93,000 square feet. As per Hindu traditions, PM Modi has been observing a 11-day purificatory ritual of fasting, sleeping on floor and drinking only coconut water ahead of the grand inaugural. He visited the Rameswaram beach for a holy dip before arriving in Ayodhya around 10:25 AM today.
- The Auspicious Timing: The muhurat for the consecration ritual was chosen by a Varanasi scholar to be 84 seconds between 12:29 – 12:30 pm during Abhijit muhurta.
- PM Modi’s Schedule: The PM landed in Ayodhya at 10:25 am and spent nearly 4 hours for the events. His participation in Pran Pratishtha was barely for 1 minute during the muhurat.
- Other Dignitaries: Over 7,000 guests attended including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, and 150 religious leaders.
- Temple Features: The temple showcases ancient Nagara architecture with intricate carvings made without using any iron. It has 44 doors and several modern amenities.
- Site History: The temple has been built on the site of the demolished 16th century Babri Masjid, which Hindu groups claimed was an ancient Ram temple site. Its destruction in 1992 led to deadly religious riots across India.
The construction completion ahead of 2024 elections is seen as a major achievement for the ruling BJP government. After offering prayers, PM Modi briefly addressed the gathering and invoked Lord Ram’s message of unity before heading back to Delhi in the afternoon. The grand temple opened for public entry the following day, witnessing a huge turnout of devotees.
The Pran Pratishtha events unfolded peacefully in Ayodhya amidst high security. All government offices in Uttar Pradesh remained closed while states like Tripura, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand declared public holiday for the occasion. The Supreme Court judgment may have put an end to the temple dispute, but the wounds from the Babri Masjid demolition seem far from healed in India.
The Grand Temple and Politics Behind its Construction
The construction of a mammoth Ram Mandir in Ayodhya has been a long-standing ideological plank for the BJP and other Hindu nationalist groups. They have campaigned for decades to build a temple on the site where the 16th century Babri Masjid stood before its destruction in 1992.
The demolition had sparked nationwide religious riots between Hindus and Muslims, exposing the festering tensions between the communities. Over 2000 people lost their lives in these violent clashes.
In 2019, the Supreme Court finally settled the land dispute case that had been fought in courts since 1950. The verdict enabled the construction of the temple on the contested 2.77 acre site, seen as a big victory for the BJP and its allies.
The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust was set up to oversee its construction which began in 2020 after an elaborate ground-breaking ceremony. The Trust has received mammoth donations worth over INR 5500 crore for the temple project which is said to cost over INR 1000 crore.
Built in traditional Nagara style of Hindu temple architecture, the grand 3-storied structure comprises carved sandstone and marble spanning over 108000 square feet. It has several modern amenities and can host approx 10,000 devotees.
The 2024 completion date ahead of Lok Sabha elections is being seen by analysts as a strategic move by BJP to swing Hindu votes in their favor using religious nationalism. Opposition has criticized the government for spending public money on a temple.
But for devout Hindus, the new Ram Mandir marks the symbolic rebirth of Lord Ram in his promised land of Ayodhya. The city itself was heavily decked up for its favored deity’s return, finally marking an end to the dark legacy of communal disharmony plaguing modern India.