The ground-breaking ceremony of the laying of foundation stone of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya will take place today. As many as 175 eminent guests, including 135 seers have been invited for the ceremony.
The Ramjanmabhoomi Movement is one of the most pivotal events in Indian history, both from a cultural and political aspect. Today the issue rages on, and over the weekend, things escalated to a level that hasn’t been seen in years when Raja Singh, an MLA of the Bharatiya Janata Party from Hyderabad, threatened to behead anyone who opposed the building of the Ram Temple on the site. In his words, “To those who warn of dire consequences if Ram Mandir [is] built...we were waiting for you to say this so we can behead you.” He has since been arrested by the Hyderabad police for this statement as well as other inflammatory remarks against Muslims.
In the modern context, the issue first arose in the 1940s, but in truth it began centuries ago in 1528 when a Mughal Emperor, Babur demolished a Hindu temple in the town of Ayodhya in order to make way for the now infamous Babri Masjid. On the 6th of December 1992, the Vishva Hindu Parishad and its allies, including the BJP party organised a rally at the Masjid to disastrous effect. The volunteers swarmed the disputed ground and within hours, the Babri Masjid was reduced to rubble. Though the dispute began long ago the repercussions have been far-reaching.
Not only did it raise tensions between the two communities in the area but also served to create an animosity that was felt throughout the nation. Many voices of reason attempted to placate followers claiming that no matter whether it was a Temple or a Mosque, neither should be demolished as both are equally important to Indian culture. This, while idealistic, proved unhelpful. Hindus claimed that as it was the spot of Rama’s birth they should have full control as the site couldn’t very well be moved.
This toxic level of devotion is not uncommon. Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti reportedly had said, “Ram temple is a matter of belief for me and I have immense pride in it...If I have to go to jail for it I will go, if I have to hang myself for it, I will do it.” For India, these events are an everyday occurrence and therein lies the problem. As a diverse, multi-religious nation, secularism is a necessity for harmony and if the ability to co-exist continues to evade us, true progress will be a distant dream.
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