Before national elections, Modi inaugurates controversial Hindu temple as he heralds a new ‘divine India’

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Before national elections, Modi inaugurates controversial Hindu temple as he heralds a new ‘divine India’

In a ceremony that was supposed to be the crowning point for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist objectives, millions of people throughout India tuned in to watch the opening of a massive Hindu temple on Monday. This event took place months before Modi seeks to win a rare third term in elections.

More than thirty years have passed since the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir, which is a temple dedicated to Lord Ram. The inauguration of this temple in Ayodhya, which is located in northern India, is anticipated to provide a significant boost to Modi’s election campaign.

It is the realization of Modi’s desire to build what he has referred to as a “new India,” which many people interpret to be the transformation of the country into a nation that is clearly Hindu. The Ram Mandir is the consummation of this dream.

For some who are opposed to Modi, the inauguration of the temple marks the culmination of a campaign that has lasted for decades and aimed to disassociate India from the secular foundations upon which the nation was established after it gained its independence.

It is today that our Lord Ram has arrived. Our Ram has finally arrived after all these centuries of longing. It is after centuries of extraordinary patience, many sacrifices, renunciations, and penances that our Lord Ram has arrived,” Modi said in a speech to a throng of 7,000 people that included movie stars, top cricket players, and tycoons. The speech was delivered from a freshly erected temple that was decorated with brilliant flowers.

In addition, he stated, “Ram is not a disagreement; Ram is the solution.”

Modi inaugurates Hindu temple on site of razed mosque in India | India |  The Guardian

 

A long-standing promise made to voters by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which drove them to office in 2014, is fulfilled by the event that took place on Monday.

Over the course of several years, Modi and his political supporters made a commitment to construct a temple on the site of a mosque that had been constructed in the 16th century. This mosque had been destroyed by violent Hindu extremists in a tragic incident that occurred in 1992 and fueled the Hindu nationalist movement in the country.

The demolition of the mosque, which was encouraged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing organizations, propelled the party into mainstream politics, and it went on to win a general election four years later.

Modi did not make any direct reference to the Babri Masjid or the Muslims of the country in his speech. Many Muslims are experiencing a great deal of anguish and sadness as a result of the events that have taken place in Ayodhya now. He did use the phrase “the beginning of a new time cycle” to refer to the process of moving forward.

It is imperative that we begin laying the groundwork for the next one thousand years from today, from this priceless moment. Modi stated that by pushing forward with the construction of the temple, all of us are now taking a pledge to construct a nation that is capable, prosperous, beautiful, and divine.

During the Pran Pratishtha, also known as the consecration ritual, which took place on Monday inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over the ceremony. Lord Ram is one of the most adored deities in Hinduism. The statue of black stone was embellished with gold jewelry, gemstones, diamonds, and flowers. It depicted the statue as a young boy.

Narendra Modi's consecration of Hindu temple in Ayodhya caps BJP campaign -  The Washington Post

From the outside, military helicopters hovered over the city and the temple, dropping flower petals over the enormous structure and the crowds of dignitaries below.

Mohan Bhagwat, the president of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the right-wing parent organization of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was one of the speakers at the occasion. He stated that the temple “has become a symbol of a new India that will stand tall.”

The statement that he made was as follows: “It has been said, and we are aware of it, that today in Ayodhya, along with Lord Ram, India’s self has returned.”

Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, which is the state in which Ayodhya is situated, and one of the most divisive political personalities in the country, referred to the Ram Mandir as India’s “national temple” and a “important ritual of cultural reawakening.”

The streets of the ancient town were filled with tens of thousands of devotees who were participating in joyful processions throughout the day. Saffron flags were flown at a high altitude, and marigold flowers were used to decorate the doors of buildings.

“For five hundred years, Lord Ram was living in a hut,” a devotee named Acharya Mohanjodaro Bharadwaj said to CNN. He was alluding to the time when the mosque that was constructed during the Mughal era emerged. “Today, Modi forced him to sit inside a temple, and the entire nation is celebrating it as if it were Diwali.”

In order to ensure that it would be a national event, celebrations were organized all throughout the country, and officials encouraged people to take part in the festivities that were hosted in their homes and temples.

Schools and stores selling alcoholic beverages were closed across the state of Uttar Pradesh on Monday, which was declared a public holiday.

On Sunday, hundreds of people from the Indian diaspora gathered in New York City to celebrate the inauguration of the new president against the backdrop of a large image of Lord Ram that was shown on a screen in Times Square. Observation parties were held at Indian embassies located all around the world.

Controversy

However, for the country’s minority Muslim community, the unveiling of the much-awaited complex, which is viewed by them as the birthplace of Ram, is a painful reminder of religious tensions that they believe are becoming more prominent under Modi’s BJP leadership. This is despite the fact that millions of Hindus cheered the opening of the complex.

A mosque known as the Babri Masjid, which was constructed in the 16th century and was constructed during the Mughal empire, which ruled India from 1526 until 1858, previously stood on the site of the temple.

However, the location has been a contentious issue for many years.

The mosque is believed by a significant number of Hindus to have been constructed over the ruins of a Hindu temple that was purportedly destroyed by Babar, the first Mughal emperor of South Asia.

The Hindu fundamentalists attacked the mosque in 1992, which resulted in widespread communal violence that resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 people across the country. These attacks were prompted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing parties.

It was some of the most violent incidents that had occurred in India since the brutal clashes that accompanied the partition that occurred after India gained its independence in 1947.

In the years that followed, Hindu nationalists organized, with the goal of constructing the Ram Mandir on the site of the mosque that had been destroyed. This event laid the groundwork for an emotionally fraught and politically charged confrontation that lasted for decades.

A man prays on the banks of Sarayu River on the occasion of Ram temple's consecration ceremony in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024.

In 2019, the Supreme Court of India gave Hindus permission to construct the temple on the contested location, thereby putting an end to the issue. It was a setback to many Muslims, for whom the destruction of the Babri Masjid continues to be a source of deep anxiety and a historic loss. However, it was hailed as a success for Modi and his supporters.

Some of the approximately 500,000 Muslims who live in Ayodhya are concerned about the possibility of being attacked on the day that the temple is inaugurated. Ayodhya is home to around three million people.

On social media, many people have expressed their support for one another by sending messages to one another. Among the messages that have been sent, WhatsApp messages have urged the community to avoid traveling on public buses and trains for their own safety.

Lately, Maulana Badshah Khan, who is 65 years old, disclosed to CNN that he will be remaining at home on Monday.

“The scars that were caused by the destruction of the Babri Mosque will never heal. Therefore, even if we are feeling discouraged about expressing them,” Khan stated. There is a significant symbolic value in the temple because it demonstrates to Muslims where they stand in New India.

‘Blurred lines’ between religion and state

Modi has been accused by other people of “weaponizing” the Hindu religion and utilising the Ram Temple for the purpose of gaining political power.

According to a statement released by Hindus for Human Rights, a non-profit advocacy organization based in the United States, “Objections include the fact that Modi is not a religious leader and is therefore not qualified to lead the ceremony.” Additionally, the statement stated that a Hindu temple cannot be consecrated until it is finished being constructed.

The statement went on to say that Modi’s “rushing through and fronting it himself” is the most recent attempt to weaponize Hinduism in the interest of the BJP’s authoritarian nationalist ideology, which is conducted in advance of the national elections that will take place in May.

During his rise to power in 2014, Modi made a commitment to overhaul the economy of the country and usher in a new period of growth. However, he also heavily pushed a Hindutva agenda, which is an ideology that believes India should become a land for Hindus.

His pledge to construct the Ram Mandir was a component that contributed to the early success of the election.

In light of the fact that Modi has fulfilled his promise to millions of people, it is widely anticipated that the opening of the temple on Monday will increase his chances of winning a rare third term in a general election that is set to take place later this year.

During the eleven days leading up to the inauguration, Modi participated in a rite that was deep in the sacred symbolism of Hinduism. He fasted and prayed. Throughout the nation, Modi paid a visit to several temples and shrines that are associated with Lord Ram as part of the festivities.

People arrive ahead of the inauguration of the temple of the Hindu god Ram in Ayodhya, northern Uttar Pradesh state, India, Monday, January 22, 2024.

“The Lord has made me an instrument to represent all the people of India during the consecration,” he said in a taped message that was uploaded to his YouTube page.

Modi uploaded a video of himself to the social networking platform X on Sunday. In the video, he can be seen stepping into the ocean and then burying himself beneath the water at the Arulmigu Ramanathaswamy Temple, which is located in the southern region of the state of Tamil Nadu.

The decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to preside over the celebrations on Monday is a manifestation of “Hindu hegemony” in India, according to Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, the author of “The Demolition and the Verdict,” a book about the demolition of a mosque in 1992.

As a result of Modi’s participation in the ceremony, which took place in a nation that is nominally secular, he stated that the lines between politics and religions had become increasingly confusing.

Furthermore, the distinction between religion and the Indian state has become entirely muddled for them. At the moment, you have the Prime Minister of India who is actually taking part in an activity that is solely religious, at which point the entire government apparatus is also taking part.

Hindu devotees flock to witness inauguration

Despite the fact that the temple will not be open to the general public until Tuesday, it is anticipated that it would attract enormous crowds once it does open, and thousands of devotees were already present in the city on Monday.

Urmila Chandravanshi, who is 90 years old, was one of the people who made the trek. She walked more than 700 kilometers, which is over 435 miles, from the state of Chhattisgarh, which is located in the middle of the country.

She clapped and sang “victory to Lord Ram” as she expressed her excitement at being at Ayodhya. She also thanked Modi with being the one who took the initiative to open the temple.

A devotee gets anoint the name of Lord Ram on his forehead ahead of the Inauguration of the Ram Mandir Temple on January 20, 2024 in Ayodhya, India.

She expressed her happiness by saying, “I have come here to seek blessings from Lord Ram and Sita, and I am very happy today.”

It was him who made the statement, “I have come here to seek blessing from Lord Ram, Modi has done so much.” “Being here makes me in a very good mood.”

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