AYODHYA : The doors of the Ram temple in Ayodhya opened to the general public on Tuesday, a day after the consecration of the new Ram Lalla idol.
A large number of devotees, both locals and visitors from other states, gathered outside the main gates for hours since late on Monday night, waiting to enter the premises.
Carrying flags bearing visages of Lord Ram and chanting ”Jai Shri Ram”, the devotees waited for hours in the biting cold before the doors of the grand temple opened.
”Felt so delighted, my life’s aim has been fulfilled. Our ancestors struggled for this and it has been brought to fruition. The arrangement should continue like this and the name of Lord Ram should reign for ages,” said Manish Verma, a devotee from Punjab.
An idol of the new Ram Lalla was consecrated at the Ayodhya temple on Monday, a landmark event led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who also gave a clarion call to go beyond the grand mandir’s construction to build the foundation of a ”strong, capable and divine” India of the next 1,000 years. ”January 22, 2024, is not merely a date in the calendar but heralds the advent of a new era,” Modi said after he performed a series of rituals in the ‘garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum)’ with the consecration taking place during an 84-second ‘Abhijeet muhurta’ starting at 12.29 pm. The prime minister also prostrated himself before the 51-inch idol that depicts the child Ram.
”Today, our Ram has arrived. After a long wait for ages, our Ram has arrived. Our Ram Lalla will no longer live in a tent. Our Ram Lalla will stay in a magnificent temple,” Modi said in his address to the invitees, which included seers, leading figures from different fields and those part of the decades-long Ram Janmabhoomi movement for building the temple.
A large number of the invitees, including seers, later had a ‘darshan’ of the deity soon after the consecration ceremony ended.
For the general public, the doors of the temple opened on Tuesday morning.
Waiting in the serpentine queues outside the temple were people who have been camping in Ayodhya since before the consecration ceremony, having made long and difficult journeys to reach the temple town. Nitish Kumar, a resident of Bihar’s Madhepura district, cycled more than 600 kilometres to reach Ayodhya. ”There is a massive rush but I am hopeful I will get a chance to have ‘darshan’ today. I will start my journey back once my wish is fulfilled. Though I couldn’t go to the temple on Monday, what a day it was to be in Ayodhya,” he said.
Anurag Sharma from Rajasthan’s Sikar was seen walking around with a model of the temple on the day of the consecration ceremony.
”I brought this model with me from my hometown. I arrived on the inaugural flight to Ayodhya and I have been here since then. I will go back only after having a ‘darshan’ of Ram Lalla,” he said.
Groups of people could also be seen marching towards the temple, passing through the decked up Ram Path. ”Ram Lalla gave us the strength to walk all the way from Chhattisgarh and now He only will get us through this crowd so we can take His blessings,” said Sunil Madho, part of an eight-member group that undertook a ‘padyatra’ to Ayodhya. Maharashtra native Gopal Krishna, who arrived in Ayodhya a few days ago, also jostled in the thick crowd as it moved towards the security check.
”We came here a few days ago as Lord Ram called us. People were telling us to not travel as police would impose restrictions on travel and rooms would not be available in hotels. We are staying at an ashram and this is the day we waited for,” he said.
He was accompanied by a few friends with whom he travelled in a four-wheeler to Ayodhya from Akola district.
The gates of the temple, decorated with flowers and lights, turned into selfie spots for the devotees as they gathered to join the queues.
The devotees chanted ”Jai Shri Ram” as they walked in and out of the temple complex. Inside the main temple, ”Jai Shri Ram” chants reverberated in its grand halls.
The temple complex, built in the traditional Nagara style, is 380 feet long from the east to the west, 250 feet wide and will eventually rise to 161 feet at the ‘shikhar’. It is supported by 392 pillars and has 44 doors. Lakhs of people watched the ‘pran pratishtha (consecration)’ ceremony on television in their homes and neighbourhood temples, savouring the historic moment on Monday.
A bevy of artistes performed folk dances, a ‘palki yatra’ was conducted by a religious troupe from Bhopal and scores of devotees from Ayodhya and other cities chanted ”Jai Shri Ram” in the streets of the temple town as the ceremony unfolded. (Agencies)