The Somnath Trust, which has PM Modi and Shah as its trustees, is set to build 12 jyotirlinga raths (chariots) which will traverse the 33 districts of the state, between February 17 and 21, to congregate at Somnath for the event. Each rath will cover three districts in the period.
This is the second such congregation of representatives from all the 12 jyotirlingas, after the first was held in Ujjain in January 2018, which has incidentally been scheduled just before the Lok Sabha elections.
“In the meeting of trustees it was decided to hold the event at end of February… Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who is also the chief patron of the event, will inaugurate the event and hoist the temple flag. Amit Shah has confirmed that he will be attending the event on February 24,” said PK Laheri retired Gujarat chief secretary and one of the seven trustees of the Somnath, while speaking with mediapersons on Tuesday.
On Modi’s presence at the event, Laheri said, “We are in touch with the PMO. His schedule is fixed for the three days, we are trying to see when he can attend. If he comes then we will organise a separate programme on the sidelines.”
Water and earth from all the 12 Jyotirlingas are being brought to Somnath for the event. The chairperson of Somnath Trust, and former Gujarat chief minister, Keshubhai Patel said that Somnath was the first of the 12 jyotirlingas of the country and the event that began last year at Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain is being continued in Gujarat where temple trustees, pujaris and administrators from all the 12 temples will congregate for the event.
“We are taking help from Ujjain in organising the event,” said Laheri, adding that swayamsevaks from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will be assisting the trust in conducting the event.
The different raths representing different Jyotrilingas will reach Sanskrit University at Veraval on February 22. The next day a “Shobha Yatra” of all the 12 raths will be taken out from Veraval.
Somnath temple has been a focal point for the BJP, especially after party leader LK Advani launched his Ayodhya rath yatra from Somnath in the 1990s. The rath yatra propelled BJP to power both in Gujarat and later in the Centre.
In the run-up to the Gujarat Assembly elections, the temple once again came into focus after Congress president Rahul Gandhi visited Somnath and Prime Minister Modi mocked at him, citing Jawaharlal Nehru’s reservations about rebuilding the temple. However, BJP lost the Somnath seat to Congress candidate Vimalbhai Kanabhai Chudasama in the polls.