Modi to open Ayodhya temple — a symbol of a changing India

Published January 20, 2024
LABOURERS stand on top of the illuminated grand temple in Ayodhya.—Reuters
LABOURERS stand on top of the illuminated grand temple in Ayodhya.—Reuters

NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Monday (Jan 22) inaugurate a temple at Ayodhya that embodies the triumph of his muscular Hindu politics, in an unofficial start to his re-election campaign this year.

The 50-metre (160-foot) tall house of worship for the deity Ram was built on grounds where the Babri mosque stood for centuries before it was torn down by Hindu zealots incited by members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

That demolition in 1992 triggered the worst riots since 1947 — killing 2,000 people, most of them Muslims — and shook the foundations of India’s officially secular political order.

But for the now ruling BJP, the opening of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, is a landmark moment in a decades-long campaign to align the country’s governance with its majority faith.

“I am fortunate that I will also be a witness to this auspicious occasion,” Modi said last week, announcing he was embarking on an 11-day ritual fast ahead of the opening.

“The Lord has made me an instrument to represent all the people of India.”

Tycoons, cricketers and actors

Thousands of people are expected to throng Ayodhya for the ceremony alongside celebrity guests, including billionaires, former national cricket captain Virat Kohli and Bollywood titan Amitabh Bachchan. Modi and the BJP have sought to bring the Hindu faith to the forefront since sweeping to power a decade ago.

Devout Hindus believe Ram, one of the most revered Hindu gods, was born in Ayodhya 7,000 years ago, but that the Babri mosque was built over his birthplace during the 16th century.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Reforming militants
24 Jul, 2024

Reforming militants

Such initiatives have been tried before, in Swat for instance, at centres run by the military as well as NGOs.
IPP debate
24 Jul, 2024

IPP debate

A FIERCE debate blaming the exorbitant electricity prices on expensive power purchase agreements with IPPs has been...
Political vendettas
24 Jul, 2024

Political vendettas

IT seems that the PML-N and PPP need to be reminded again that they are doing themselves a considerable disservice ...
Security concerns
23 Jul, 2024

Security concerns

All stakeholders want what is best for the country and its people; their differing approaches shouldn’t be viewed with such suspicion all the time.
Frankfurt vandalism
23 Jul, 2024

Frankfurt vandalism

THE state needs to seek serious answers from the German authorities regarding the July 20 mob attack targeting...
Stressed cotton economy
23 Jul, 2024

Stressed cotton economy

DECREASING cotton production should be a worry for the government because of its socioeconomic implications. Early...