Thousands attend VHP's 'Dharam Sabha' for Ram temple construction
Thousands of devotees thronged the temple town of Ayodhya on Sunday to attend VHP's marathon 'Dharam Sabha' for discussing the construction of a Ram Temple there, with a senior religious leader asserting the dates for the same would be announced early next year.
Addressing the Sabha after the inauguration marked by chanting of mantras at the Badey Bhaktmaal ki Bagia, Ramji Das of Nirmohi Akhara said: "The date for construction of the Ram temple will be declared in the 2019 Kumbh which will be held in Prayagraj".
"It is only a matter of few days, and I request you all to show some patience," the seer remarked.
The venue wore a festive look with placards, saffron flags and buntings carried by enthusiastic Ram devotees seen all over.
While bhajans of Lord Ram played at different places all along the route, the involvement of some Muslims led by a member of Ayodhya Zila Panchayat, Babloo Khan who has been linked to the movement since the past three years, emphasised the composite culture of the town.
"I have been associated with the Ram temple movement for the last 3 years, and I feel that even the Muslims of Ayodhya want a Ram temple should be built. I am a Muslim, and I am welcoming the Ram devotees," Khan told PTI.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad claimed over 3 lakh people attended the congregation as devotees from all walks of life descended here to discuss the way forward for building the temple.
Senior VHP leader Champat Rai declared that no formula dividing the disputed land will be acceptable for temple construction at Ayodhya.
"We want the entire land for temple construction...no formula dividing the land is acceptable," he told the Dharam Sabha.
Though Rai did not spell out the details, his assertions are considered to be in reference to the Allahabad High court verdict dividing the land into three parts.
Nritya Gopaldas, the president of the Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas said, "such a large attendance shows that how much people from different walks of life are attached to the Ram temple.
"We respect the courts. We have great hopes from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. I request Adityanath to pave the way for construction of Ram temple", he said.
The religious congregation which lasted for nearly five hours saw around 50 seers from different ashrams and akhadas taking part in the religious meeting.
Saints from Haridwar, Chhattisgarh, Hrisikesh, Ujjain, Gujarat, Chitraoot, Prayagraj and Lucknow attended the congregation, said Mahant Ramdas of Nirmohi Akhada of Ayodhya.
Slogans of 'har ghar pe bhagwa chhayegaa, ram rajya phir aayegaa' and 'tel lagaao dabur kaa, naam mittaao Babar kaa' could be heard from various corners of the programme venue and also on the stretch of the road leading to it.
Senior religious leader Ram Bhadracharya claimed he had met a senior minister on Friday with regard to the construction of the temple
"On November 23 I had called a senior union minister who assured that after the model code of conduct comes to an end on December 11, the Prime Minister is likely to sit with them and take
such a decision so that Ram temple could be built," he told the gathering.
"... Once Ram temple is built it will become a ghoshit Hindu raashtra," he added.
Large size hoardings of Mahanat Avaidyanath (guru of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath), Mahant Ramchandra Das and VHP stalwart Ashok Singhal dotted the place.
Members of Ayodhya Zila panchayat Babloo had installed a flower petal showering machine to welcome the devotees on the way to programme venue.
A model of the proposed Ram temple was also displayed at the venue.
Elaborate arrangements including for food and medical facilities were made on the occasion, with the Chikitsaa prakosth of the BJP setting up camp and providing medicines for the needy.
Days ago, the BJP's youth wing had come out with "Ram Dhun", a one-minute devotional song that can be downloaded as a ringtone in mobile phones by devotees, with a view to garner support for construction of Ram temple.
The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella body of more than a dozen Muslim religious and social organisations, has written to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his urgent intervention into the developments in Ayodhya.
VHP's Dharam Sabha is being touted as the largest congregation of 'Ram bhakts' in Ayodhya since the 1992 'kar seva' and it took place less than two weeks ahead of the 26th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th century Babri Mosque, that had triggered unrest in this pilgrim town and riots in other parts of India.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said he disapproved of the Shiv Sena's push for constructing a Ram temple here, saying the party had no role in the temple movement.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who arrived here ahead of the rally, on Saturday asked the Modi government to wake up from a "Kumbhakarna-like slumber" and declare the date for the temple's construction.
(With inputs from agencies.)