Devotees can attend 'aarti' at Ram temple next month

Devotees can attend aarti at Ram temple next month
Head priest of the Ram Janambhoomi temple Mahant Satyendra Das in Ayodhya on Saturday

For the first time, devotees will be allowed to attend 'aarti' during Ram Navmi celebrations on the Ram Janmabhoomi premises next month

Ayodhya : For the first time, devotees will be allowed to attend 'aarti' during Ram Navmi celebrations on the Ram Janmabhoomi premises next month as arrangements are being made to shift the Ram Lalla idols to a place 200 metres from the present makeshift temple.

Everyday it's only the main priest Satendra Das and his four assistants who perform the 'puja' with devotees kept out of the worship proceedings.

But this Ram Navmi, observed as the birth anniversary of Hindu deity Ram, is falling after the historic Supreme Court verdict paved the way for handing over of the disputed land to a trust to build the Ram temple.

There have been demands that Ram Navmi celebrations on April 2 be cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the local administration is keen to carry on.

The trust has allowed the devotees to witness the proceedings and also raised the budget for celebrations from Rs 51,000 to Rs 1,50,000.

Mahant Satendra Das, who has been a priest at the Ram Janmabhoomi since 1992, before the Babri Masjid was brought down, said they can make better arrangements with the new allocation of funds.

"Yes, this year, the devotees can see the aarti on Ram Navmi. The idols are being shifted to a new place (250-300 metre from the existing place) on March 25," Mahant Das told PTI.

"Every month, the offerings come to the tune of Rs 10 lakh but we used to get only Rs 51,000. With the increased budget, the quantity of 'Prasad' will also be more this year.

"New velvet clothes will be made for God this year. Also, every year we distribute one quintal of panjiri (north Indian sweet) and 50 kg of panchamrit (sweet crystalline substance) but this year, we will distribute three quintals of panjiri and one quintal (100 kg) of panchamrit," Das added.

It has also been learnt that the idols of Ram and his three brothers – Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan -- will be shifted from the sanctum sanctorum (Garbh Grah) to the new temporary place under a bulletproof structure in the early hours of March 25, the first day of Navratri.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will also be present on the occasion and he is likely to carry one of the idols.

"If he wants to carry the idol, we have no problem. He can do it. The idols will be shifted while chanting the Swasti Vachan mantra," Das said.

The trust, headed by Nritya Gopal Das, will meet on April 4 here to decide the dates for the 'bhumi pujan' and construction of the temple.

Ayodhya CMO Ghanshyam Singh has suggested that the programme be cancelled due to the coronavirus threat but District Magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha said the function will go on.

"Ram Navmi will be celebrated as per tradition and with requited care and precautions. The administration will issue a timely advisory for people and take all necessary care of the health of visiting devotees," Jha said in a statement.

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