NEW DELHI: Police barricades, yellow banners, walls with a fresh coat of paint and the sounds of bhajan mark parts of Ayodhya as the city awaits its big day on Wednesday, when the first brick will be laid for the Ram temple.
The Ayodhya ceremony, held at a time recommended by astrologers, has been curtailed because of the coronavirus, with at least two priests as well as Union home minister Amit Shah testing positive for Covid-19.
Here is all you need to know about the foundation stone laying ceremony:
Ayodhya decked up
* Ayodhya is decked up for the bhoomi pujan that will be attended at the Ram Janmabhoomi by 175 people, who figure in a select guest list of seers and politicians topped by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
* Roads leading to Ayodhya display hoardings with the picture of the proposed Ram temple and of Ram Lalla, the infant Ram, the deity now housed in a makeshift temple.
* Around the town's Hanumangarhi area – named after a well-known temple which PM Modi will visit on Wednesday – both police sirens and bhajans' in praise of Ram are heard.
* Most of the shops in the locality wear a new look, with their fronts painted in bright yellow.
PM Modi to perform Bhumi Pujan at 12:30pm
* The 'Bhumi Pujan' for the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya will begin at 12:30pm on Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi performing the 'Shila Pujan', 'Bhumi Pujan' and 'Karma Shila Pujan'.
* According to an official statement, the main 'puja' will be held between 12:44 pm and 12:45 pm during the 32-second 'Abhijit Muhurat'. It is the same 'muhurat' or auspicious moment when Lord Ram was believed to have been born.
* The Prime Minister will lay a 40-kg silver brick to symbolise the start of construction of the temple that is at the core of the ruling BJP's ideology and poll promises.
* He will unveil a plaque to mark the laying of foundation stone and also release a commemorative postage stamp on 'Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir'.
Four-phased Ramarchan puja begins in Ayodhya
* A day prior to foundation laying ceremony of Ram Temple, the four-phased Ramarchan puja began to invoke the major gods and goddesses who consider Lord Ram as their 'Ishth' (the god of worship) at Ayodhya's Ram Janmabhoomi on Tuesday.
* The prayers began around 10:30am with Vedic saints conducting the prayers facing Ramlalla on his temporary seat.
* As part of the religious ceremonies ahead of main Bhoomi Pujan on August 5, Lord Ganesh prayers were conducted on Monday.
* Gods and goddesses like Mahadevi, Lord Shankar, Ganesh, 10 digpal and Shodash Mata are worshipped in these prayers.
* Lord Ram will be worshipped by chanting of his 1,008 names and offered tulsi.
Special dress with nine gems for Ram Lalla
* For the past three and a half decades, brothers Shankarlal and Bhagwatlal 'Pahaadhi' have been stitching clothes for Ram Lalla in Ayodhya. Their dedication will be manifest in the splendid dress they have meticulously crafted for the deity to wear on August 5, during the bhoomi pujan ceremony of the Ram temple.
* Operating from their shop named after their late father Babulal and located in the city's Badhi Kutiyaa area, the brothers stitch clothes for only deities and seers.
* Shankarlal said that for Wednesday, two sets of dresses have been made — one is green, while the other is orange. On Wednesday, the green dress will be worn first and the orange one later, Shankarlal said.
* The special dress for the ceremony has nine gems stitched in golden thread.
Who will attend the ceremony
* The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra general secretary on Monday said 175 eminent guests have been invited for the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
* The invitation list has been prepared only after "personally discussing" with BJP veterans L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, lawyer K Parasaran and other dignitaries, the trust's general secretary Champat Rai said in Ayodhya.
* He said 175 eminent guests, including 135 seers belonging to as many spiritual traditions, would be present at the programme, adding that some eminent citizens of the temple town have also been invited.
* Seven religious leaders from Gujarat have been invited for the ground-breaking ceremony for Ram temple construction in Ayodhya, a VHP spokesperson said.
* Hindu seers from Nepal have also been invited as Janakpur has relations with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Ayodhya
Ayodhya stalwarts may stay away from 'bhumi pujan'
* The frontline leaders of the Ayodhya movement will not be present in the temple town on Wednesday when the much-awaited 'bhumi pujan' of the Ram temple takes place.
* Senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are likely to join the 'bhoomi pujan' of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya through video conferencing due to health conditions, sources said.
* Uma Bharti has said that she would prefer to stay away from the function due to the pandemic.
* Reports said that former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh may also stay away from the 'bhumi pujan' ceremony for 'unexplained reasons'.
Bigger and taller Ram temple
* The Ram temple in Ayodhya will be grander and bigger compared to the earlier plan with three new domes added to the design and the structure's height increased by 20 feet.
* The changes in design, which have the approval of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, will enable more devotees to be accommodated in the precincts of the temple and add to its magnificence.
* Annu Bhai Sompura, manager of Ram Mandir Nirman Karyashala, had said earlier that silver, gold and copper would also be used in the construction of the temple apart from stones and wood.
* Mahant Raju Das, senior priest of Hanumangarhi temple in Ayodhya, said the new design will enable around one lakh devotees to be accommodated in the temple for prayers. He said each floor will have theme associated with Lord Ram such as childhood "jhaanki" and Ram Darbar.
* Nikhil Sompura, architect and son of C Sompura who is chief architect of the temple, had said height of the temple will be 1Read More – Source