Wednesday, April 17, 2024
India News

Ayodhya’s Transformation: Jets, Copters, Swanky Cars, VIPs, and 10L Diyas | India News

AYODHYA: Over 100 private jets, rose petal-showering IAF choppers, swanky cars, rich and famous people — Ayodhya on consecration day saw all these and more. But it was the townspeople, forced to live with police bandobast for three decades, who brought life and light — 10 lakh diyas lit Sarayu’s banks — to Ayodhya’s celebratory mood.
The town was unrecognisable, residents said. Streets were lined with flower arrangements and rangolis. None more than the 560-metre-long Janmabhoomi Path that leads to Ram temple complex. Sixty stages dotted a 10-km stretch to the temple complex. On every stage, artists from different Indian musical traditions performed throughout the day.
Ayodhya’s ordinary folks added their own little touches to this grandeur — offering flowers, holding aartis and distributing sweets as first visuals of Ram Lalla idol appeared on TV screens. As the sun set, diyas, tens of thousands of them, were lit all over.
Throughout the day, many were out on streets, offering food to all. Those with means, like white-collar professionals, organised this on their own. Those with limited means pooled money. So just as there was aretired banker offering puri, sabji and boondi through community kitchens, a few km away 15 families shared the cost of a 5-day bhandara. Sound boxes playing Ram bhajans were ubiquitous. Some, like a group of women, danced, saying there was no other way they could express what they felt.
VIP rush over, locals plan their own celebrations
Of course, many residents had earlier gathered to get a glimpse of celebrities they had seen photos of in newspapers and visuals on TVs. They were not disappointed. Bollywood and south film industry were there in force, as was India Inc and some of India’s finest sporting stars. Amitabh Bachchan to Rajinikanth, Mukesh Ambani to Laxmi Mittal, Katrina Kaif to Kangana Ranaut, Sachin Tendulkar to Saina Nehwal — they all came to what just a few years back was a dusty town in UP.
Choppers, a familiar sight in election times in UP, made an appearance when IAF helicopters showered the temple complex with rose petals. Sonu Nigam, Shankar Mahadevan and Anuradha Paudwal sang Ram bhajans for the specially invited 8,000 guests.
The VIPs left after the ceremony, private jets flying them home. But for Ayodhya’s residents, celebrations had only just begun. Denied access to many parts of the town because of VIP movement, they plan to hold their own special events Tuesday onwards.
Shops will open Tuesday and the temple perimeter, under heavy security on Monday, will be publicly accessible. Townspeople have planned accordingly. There will be cycle rallies, with participants coming from all over India. Many will offer food to monkeys, a nod to Ramayan’s banar sena. Temples near the main shrine will host musical events and offer free food and accommodation to anyone visiting, in some case for as long as 40 days. Ram temple expects lakhs of pilgrims over the coming weeks. The residents are happy and proud that their hometown will now be on must-visit lists.
Ayodhya changed on Monday. So did its people.

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