In what is set to be a first for a government in Uttar Pradesh in recent times, the Yogi Adityanath administration has decided to celebrate Diwali on a grand scale on the banks of Saryu river in Ayodhya next month, with the Chief Minister, Governor Ram Naik, the entire ministry and top government officers present there.
Confirming that Adityanath himself has asked for the celebrations to be held in the temple town, with prominent buildings along Saryu Ghat decorated and illuminated, sources said a senior officer from the Chief Minister’s secretariat had held a meeting in Faizabad last week with officials of various departments and the local administration. At the meeting, the officials concerned were alerted about Adityanath’s decision and asked to begin preparations, sources said.
Sources said the main events in Ayodhya will be organised on October 18, a day before Diwali, since Adityanath will be in Gorakhpur for Diwali pooja at Gorakhnath temple on the festival day.
No lighting would be done near the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site due to legal reasons, the sources said.
A meeting to fine-tune the details is set to be held in Lucknow on Thursday. The Tourism Department has been made nodal agency for the programme. Departments such as Culture, Urban Development, PWD, Home, Power and Irrigation have been given different tasks to make the two-day event a success.
Principal Secretary and Director General (Tourism) Awanish Kumar Awasthi confirmed that the celebrations are being organised in Ayodhya, and that Adityanath will be present. “The aim of the programme is to attract tourists and showcase tourism spots and the potential of Ayodhya,” Awasthi said.
He said, “A proposal from Faizabad district magistrate has been sought to decide what could be done at the event. It is proposed to be a two-day event.”
Awasthi also said some new projects will be taken up for the development of Ayodhya. The government’s scheme to connect religious places by helicopter service may also be launched for the temple before Diwali, it is learnt.
According to sources privy to discussions in last week’s Faizabad meeting, prominent places in Ayodhya such as the Ram Ki Paidi, Kanak Bhavan, Hanumangarhi and some temples, besides major crossings in the town, will be decorated and illuminated with lights and earthen diyas.
Adityanath has visited Ayodhya at least twice after assuming office and has already announced that he will visit the religious place frequently in the future.