Press Trust of india

Ayodhya relives ‘Ramayan’ days; People throng shops with TV sets to watch Ram Mandir ‘bhoomi poojan’

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Ayodhya: From blowing of conch shells and ringing of bells to ceaseless chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Siyavar Ramchandra Ki Jai’, streets of this temple town got immersed in a religious fervour on Wednesday as the foundation laying ceremony for a Ram Temple got underway here.

Some jewellery shops in the famous Shringaar Haat area turned into places for community television spots as passers-by and even some security personnel and mediapersons joined shopkeepers to watch the live telecast of ‘bhoomi poojan’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the temple and his speech.

District Magistrate of Ayodhya Anuj Kumar Jha said the day passed off peacefully. Senior Superintendent of Police of Ayodhya Deepak Kumar also said the city was was absolutely normal on Wednesday.

Many recalled that these scenes were similar to ones quite common in late 1980s when ‘Ramayan’ serial was telecast on Doordarshan and people used to gather at few houses and shops having TV sets.

Rooftops of buildings in the area, close to Hanumangarhi Temple, became hubs and vantage points for video journalists and photographers, while roadside trees provided the much-needed shade to security forces deployed for the occasion.

Some shopkeepers were also seen distributing laddoos (sweets), while saffron flags with pictures of Lord Ram and Lord Hanuman were seen on many balconies, verandahs and rooftops.

While only a few shops were open and police barricades stopped people well before the ceremony area, crowds gathered on rooftops with social distancing making way for heavy jostling among people to get a glimpse of what many described as a historic moment for Ayodhya, a Sanksrit word that means ‘unconquerable’ and has long been known as birthplace of Lord Ram.

Chants of Jai Shri Ram, blowing of conch shells and ringing of bells reached a crescendo the moment the word got around about Modi’s arrival at the main venue, where access was highly restricted due to safeguard measures in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another round of chants began when the prime minister began his speech with ‘Jai Siya Ram’ and crowds in front of TV sets also responded loudly to Modi’s ‘Siyavar Ramchandra ki Jai’ slogan.

Wearing a green-coloured mask, 60-year-old Shanti, who was glued to a TV set at a jewellery shop, said, “I feel extremely overwhelmed to experience this glorious and historic moment. I feel happy that now the Ram temple will be built.”

Mahendra Yadav, seated next to Shanti, said, “It is a very important moment in my life, and I am going to cherish it to the hilt. If possible, I will tell stories about this day to my grandchildren.”

Many were also seen reciting couplets of Ramcharit Manas quoted by Modi in his speech.

Nagraj said, “Though, I am sitting at Shringaar Haat, I feel like sitting at the site of Bhoomipujan.”

Shiv Dayal Soni, a third-generation jeweller, said, “It was a different type of footfall at my shop today. I did not get any customers today and instead devotees came here and watched the live telecast of Bhoomipujan and the speech of Prime Minister Modi.”

Glued to TV at the same place, along with many passers-by and some security personnel, Savitri Soni said, “I feel proud to witness this momentous occasion. People coming here at the shop and watching this event on television gives me immense satisfaction. Today’s scene reminds me of the first Ramayan serial, when people used to gather the house of a person having a television, and Ramayan was collectively viewed.”

As people were chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’, a ‘Chabiwala Baba’ also arrived on the scene with a nearly 3-feet long key made of cardboard.

When asked about the key, he said, “This is the key of knowledge and it has the power to bring transformation and change of heart.”

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