Ayodhya : It is a rainbow of hope and faith outside the sprawling 67 acres of the Ram Janmabhoomi (RJB) in the temple town of Ayodhya as hundreds of people from different parts of India queued up for a darshan of ‘Ram Lalla’ on a sunny Thursday afternoon.
Under the vigilant eyes of gun-toting security personnel from the UP Police and the paramilitary forces, including an all-women’s unit, people in bright turbans, women young and old with veils covering their faces, others with their foreheads smeared with vermillion, walked up the pathway leading to the makeshift temple.
The serpentine iron-grilled corridors fenced by barbed wire were choked with devotees finding their way from one side to the other of the 3-km stretch for ‘darshan’ of ‘Ram Lalla’ installed under a tent since December 6, 1992 when thousands of ‘kar sevaks’ razed the 16-the century Babri mosque.
Bhishmasen Bassoi from Naurangpur in Odisha waited anxiously for his turn. He said in broken Hindi that there was no way that construction of the temple could now be delayed.
The 62-year-old said he was sure that the next time he was in Ayodhya, work would have started on the grand Ram temple and that he would live to see its completion.
Kanhaiyya Lal Sharma, who runs a ‘locker room’ for the devotees to keep their wallets, phones and other items barred from the premises, said the footfall “of late has increased considerably”. While the 28-year-old partly credits this to the ongoing Kumbh in Prayagraj, he says the “recent buzz around the Ram temple construction” has also created interest among the people.
Sixty-five-year-old Mast Ram from Barwa Tola locality of Ayodhya was selling guavas outside the ‘isolated zone’ of the RJB and his eyes brimmed with confidence at the mention of a Ram temple.
“Ram Mandir to banbaiy kari,” he said in Avadhi dialect, adding that his hopes are pinned on the “recent developments” narrated to him by his college-going grandson.
With the Centre moving an application in the Supreme Court for handing over the 67 acre acquired land minus the disputed 2.22 acre, the locals and the visitors are certainly pepped up with the prospect of an early solution to the long-simmering imbroglio.
Sporting a burly moustache, Nawal Das from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh was certain that this time round “Mantri ji will settle the issue”. Prodded to tell more, he coyly refused to answer and melted into the bustling crowd.
Yagnesh, a priest from Vadodara, who was part of a 12-member contingent from the Gujarat, said that though he has been to Ayodhya thrice in the past, this time was “different”. “I am sure the prospects of a grand Ram temple are brighter than ever”.
Hemant Mishra, a local who is a regular to the ‘Ram Kachehri’ temple near the RJB, threw up his hands in despair at the “politics being played on the sensitive matter”. Pointing at the heavy security around and the tall fences, he said this was a “sad situation” that “broke his heart”.
Chinta Devi, a village woman from Nalanda, was equally sad at the fact that “Ram Lalla has fallen on bad times (is durdasha)”. She, like many other pilgrims coming to Ayodhya, hope that “Ram Mandir ka Nirman sheeghra hoga” (the temple construction will be soon).
(Mohit Dubey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)