With the pandemic having put paid to the Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust’s desire to have “all those who participated in the 77th revolution of the temple in 1984” attend Wednesday’s Ram temple groundbreaking ceremony, 175 people are being invited for the event, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the chief guest to initiate it.
According to the Trust’s general secretary, Champat Rai, the invitees include 135 religious leaders from 36 spiritual traditions across the country.
Modi is expected to arrive at the temple town around 11.30 am and leave soon after the event concludes, around 2 pm.
The other invitees include Union and state ministers, BJP leaders, RSS office-bearers and dignitaries connected to the VHP, among others (see box for some of those expected to be present). In keeping with Covid-19 norms, seating arrangements have been made in a way that all invitees will sit at a distance of six feet, Rai said.
Given security for the high-profile event, the invitation letter – “it is ready and is being sent out” – will have a security code and will be valid for only one person, with single entrance, Rai said at a media conference. Mobile phones and bags are prohibited.
Written in red and black over a yellow background, the invitation letters ask invitees to be present at Karsevakpuram in Ayodhya by Tuesday, 4 pm.
While the bhoomi and shila pujan programmes, after which the temple construction will begin, is scheduled for Wednesday, preparations are already on. The city has been painted yellow – an auspicious colour of knowledge and learning.
The prayers and the ceremony will start on Tuesday morning with the worship of Lord Hanuman’s mark in Ayodhya—Hanuman is believed to preside over the city. Tuesday’s programme was initially scheduled for Sunday but had to be delayed due to weekend lockdown in the state due to the pandemic.
On Wednesday, PM Modi is expected to start the event by offering prayers at the Hanuman Garhi temple, where he is scheduled to spend about seven minutes. He is subsequently expected to visit the makeshift Ram Lalla temple, made of wood and glass, and offer flowers to the deity.
The bhoomi and shila pujan will include chanting of mantras, and after shovelling the earth, a worship of the ground and shila. Officials in Ayodhya said a 22.6-kg brick made of pure silver will be used for the bhoomi pujan.
Rai said although the main programme will take place on Wednesday, prayers and worship had begun 108 days ago—on April 18—with regular recitation of the Vedas, Vastu, Grah, Nakshatra shanti path, Shri Ram naam paath, Hanuman naam paath and havan.
On discussions over Ram Lalla and other deities to be dressed in green, Rai said some people are trying to create a controversy. He said green has nothing to do with the Trust or the Prime Minister’s Office.
“The subject in entirely connected with the chief priest of Ram Lalla temple and traditions,” he told the media. “Colour of dress for the deities are decided on the basis of nine planets in astrology, and Budh (Wednesday) is connected to green. The tradition is followed since Ram Lalla is here.”
Temple chief priest Mahant Satyendra Das had earlier told The Indian Express that the deities’ attire are ritually changed every day, with different colours for days of the wee—pink on Sunday, white on Monday, red on Tuesday, green on Wednesday, yellow on Thursday, cream on Friday, and blue on Saturday.
Construction of the temple will begin after Wednesday’s programme and members of the Trust said that it will be ready in six months to a year.