Ram Mandir in Ayodhya: How the Hindus of Nepal Celebrated the Occasion?
Prof Hari Bansh Jha

On August 5, 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation for the construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple will be 235 feet wide, 300 feet long and 161 feet high with five domes. It will cover the total land area of 84,000 square feet in which a prayer hall, lecture hall, visitors’ hostel and museum will also be constructed. Uniquely, there will be no use of iron in the construction and its life will be at least 1000 years. For the construction of the temple, the devotees from different parts of India and also from outside the country have already collected 200,000 bricks inscribed with “Shri Ram.”

Preliminary estimates are that Rs.300 crores will be spent on the construction of the Ram temple, but the cost is likely to escalate further. The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust has been entrusted with the responsibility of completing the construction work in three-and-half years.

The temple that existed on the birthplace of Lord Ram was destroyed by Mir Baqi at the order of Mughal emperor Babur in 1528-29. Since then the dispute over this piece of land started. The first legal case in this regard was filed at the Faizabad Civil court as far back as on November 30, 1858 when India was ruled by the East India Company. But on December 6, 1992, the kar sevaks (volunteers) demolished the mosque.

Subsequently, several pieces of evidence on the existence of a Hindu temple were found at the site of the Babri mosque when the Archaeological Survey of India conducted excavation work. Primarily based on that piece of evidence, supported by a plethora of related evidence, the Indian Supreme Court of India in a historic verdict in November 2019, allowed the disputed site of Babri mosque to be given to the Hindus for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. The Court also directed the state administration to identify and allot to the Muslim group, another suitable piece of land at a different location for construction of a Mosque.

As per the mythological epic Ramayan, Ayodhya, which means the land that cannot be won in battle, was the capital city of Awadh state. Bhagwan Shri Ram was born at Ayodhya as the son of King Dasarath, who ruled Awadh as the most ideal King in the Treta Yuga some ten thousand years ago. His concept of “Ram Rajya” was acknowledged as the best system of governance. People in this land knew no suffering caused by physical or mental illness, divinely natural calamities like floods, drought, floods, and earthquake or material pain caused by flies, animals, and virus. This was also because as a King his subjects were far more important to him than his own family or life.

Ram, for the Hindus, was the perfect incarnation of the Supreme Protector Lord Vishnu and his wife, Sita, the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Ram was titled Maryada Purushottam, the best among the men, for his sacrifice, sublime, love, valour, compassion and service. His ideals were the source of inspiration for all. No one in the Bharat Varsha (Indian sub-continent) influenced the behaviour of the natives as much as Bhagwan Ram and Mata Sita.

Therefore, the story of Lord Ram and Mother Sita has been manifested in our culture and religious memories for thousands of years. Many versions of the Ramayana were written in different languages in the Indian sub-continent, including in Sanskrit, Awadhi, Hindi, Maithili, Nepali, Telugu, Malayalam and several other languages outside as in Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. Ram Leela and Ram Katha are most common in all these societies.

By tradition, the influence of Ram in our culture is understood from the fact that every Hindu wants his son to be like Ram and his daughter as Sita. A child on the first day of his schooling is made to recite and write “Rama Gati, Deha Sumati” (Let Ram’s Power Give Me Noble Thought). When one begins weighing foodgrains, he begins his first counting with Ramhi Ram followed by Ramahi Do (two), and so on... When one has to decry another person for any misconduct, he utters, “Ram Ram” first. During salutations, people often say, “Ram Ram” Jai Ram Ji Ki or Jai Siya Ram. It is also believed that Lord Shankar gives Ramtarak Mantra (Sri Ram Jai Ram Jay Jay Ram) at the time of death to a person in his holy city of Varanasi in his bid to provide moksha (liberation) from the cycle of birth and death. Even during the Shava Yatra (funeral procession), people often chant “Ram Nam Satya Hai” meaning Ram’s name is the truth.

Significantly, Ram is emotionally equally close to the heart of the people in Nepal. This is so because Sita, the daughter of Nepal, was married to Ram. Therefore, people in Nepal, including the Sita-Ram temples, on August 5 lit lights to express their solidarity with the Ram Janmbhoomi Puja event. The lamps were lit by the devotees in the most scared world-famous Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu. Out of joy and ecstasy, people also lit lamps in celebration in Nepalgunj, Rautahat and other towns and rural areas of the country.

In Janakpur, which happens to be the birthplace of Sita, an emotionally charged devotee rejoiced on the occasion and uttered, “Now Sita would have her palace built in Ayodhya.” At the Ram Mandir at Janakpur, the devotees lit earthen lamps. Similarly, in the premise of the noted Janaki Temple, people lit earthen lamps even amidst prohibitory order imposed in the town due to the growing cases of coronavirus. The Mahanth (Head Priest) of Janaki Temple, Ram Tapeshwar Das, even left for Ayodhya to participate in Bhoomi Pujan ceremony. He carried with him five pieces of silver-made bricks, to be used in the construction of the temple.

Celebration of the Ayodhya event in Nepal with so much of devotion symbolises the unique relations between Nepal and India due to Sita-Ram factor, which is like the water of the brook flowing perennially as mentioned in the poem “The Brook” of Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.”

The Ram Janmbhoomi Pujan ceremony in Ayodhya symbolizes the victory of the truth over untruth. Construction of the temple at this site is likely to influence the social, cultural, economic and political life of the people of India. For the believers, Ram Raj may return in a certain form in this country due to this development, which might not only help improve the quality of life of the people but it could even ensure a greater level of peace and harmony at the global level as Ram’s ideal is not any country-specific but it is appealing to the humanity.

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

Image Source: https://images.livemint.com/img/2020/08/05/600x338/4e645542-d643-11ea-b961-ad37760ffd4d_1596592534885_1596592634174.jpg

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