During this year’s Deepawali celebration the nation keenly focused its eyes at the festival celebration in Ayodhya, where Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s speech evoked a rare curiosity among people and the presence of South Korean First Lady Kim Jung added an international flavour to the occasion. Due to its historical backdrop, Ayodhya is a place which is deep-rooted in the memory and emotion of people of India.
Despite its cultural and spiritual significance, it may not be wrong to say that over the years Ayodhya has made headlines only in the context of court dispute and otherwise treated as yet another place in the map. But ever since the Yogi Government took the reins of Uttar Pradesh administration, Ayodhya has returned to the national discourse like never before with a lot of positive buzz. The Modi Government at the Centre has been greatly contributing to this whole process of reimagining Ayodhya on the lines of its historical splendour.
Celebrating Deepawali in Ayodhya
Deepawali marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. But despite this glorious context, Ayodhya was not known for its grand Deepawali celebration before two years ago. In March 2017, BJP swept Uttar Pradesh Assembly election and Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister of the state. In the same year, Yogi Government introduced a grand Deepawali celebration in Ayodhya. The world witnessed the splendor of about 1.71 lakh earthen lamps lit on the banks of the Sarayu River.
This year Deepawali celebration in Ayodhya extended to another level when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath renamed the district Faizabad as ‘Ayodhya’. He also announced the setting up of a grand statue of Lord Ram in Ayodhya which according to the Chief Minister will become a landmark for the city.
Of course, the presence of South Korean First Lady Kim Jung was special. She laid the foundation stone for Rs 50 crore monument in the name of ancient era South Korean Queen Heo Hwang-ok. The story is that this queen known in India as ‘Suriratna’ belonged to Ayodhya and went all the way to South Korea in 48 AD and married the King. Thus, a larger cultural significance of Ayodhya has been conveyed to the world by having Lady Kim who belongs to the Suriratna dynasty as a Deepawali guest.
Ayodhya Firmly Placed on the Development Map
For the naysayers and skeptics who often argue that how can a statue or a festival celebration change the lives of people, need to realize that the development thrust that Ayodhya got under Yogi Government is also a never before story. Here are some of the highlights of the developments currently taking place under the Yogi Government:
- Soon after becoming Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath announcedRs 350 crore development initiatives for Ayodhya in June 2017.
- Rs 50 crore have been earmarked for the development of roads.
- Cleaning and beautification of bathing Ghats, also known as ‘Ram ki Paidi’ became a priority.
- Laxman fort and GuptarGhat are also under renovation.
- Beautification of public places, public toilets, drainage systems, streetlights, signboards, and sandstone benches is going on.
- Many things are in the pipeline such as watchtowers, installation of CCTV, a multipurpose hall at the Digambar Akhara and a tourist shelter at Panchkoshi Parikrama.
- Modi government at the Centre is also generous in funding for Ayodhya’s development. In fact, many of the above-stated developments are taking place with the assistance of the Central Government.
- As per media reports, Centre has a big plan of rebuilding Ayodhya Railway station at par with the global standards.
- Modi government has developed a grand infrastructure improvement and tourism plan in the form of the ‘Ramayana Circuit’ with the sanctioned amount of Rs 133 crore, in which Ayodhya is a major beneficiary.
- Ministry of Road Transport & Highways hasinitiated widening and improvement of Ramjanaki Marg (NH-227A) from Ayodhya Cantonment to Rampur (55 km) with a cost of Rs 315 crore.
Modi Government Bringing Ayodhya in International Discourse
Rebuilding Ayodhya into modern yet an ancient rooted city involves a multi-dimensional effort in which both the Modi Government at the Centre and the Yogi Government in Uttar Pradesh are playing an active role.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been weaving an Ayodhya centric global discourse through Lord Ram. This effort is not only putting Ayodhya on a global platform but is also strengthening India’s soft power via rekindling cultural ties. Here are some instances.
- It is PM Narendra Modi who facilitated South Korean First Lady’s visit to Ayodhya. In fact, it was during Modi’s visit to South Korea in May 2015 that this special relationship between Ayodhya and Korea has been brought to the popular discourse by making it a part of the joint statement issued on the occasion.
- Janakpur in today’s Nepal is the birthplace of Sita. In May 2018, PM Modi and Nepal Prime Minister together flagged off Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service. PM Modi also announced Rs 100 crore for the development of Janakpur.
- In January 2018, Delhi hosted a five days Ramayana Festival which witnessed the participation of 10 ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries.
- Whether through referring a shared cultural history in the context of Ramayana during his March 2015 Colombo visit, or presenting Persian translation of Valmiki Ramayana to the President of Kazakhstan in his July 2015 visit, PM Modi takes hold of every possible opportunity to showcase the story of Lord Ram to the world.
All the above illustrious efforts by Modi Government at the Centre and UP Government in the State have paved the way for the re-emergence of the ancient city Ayodhya on a global scale. Since Ayodhya is very much central to the faith and cultural discourse of India, its re-emergence is of a great value for the New India narrative.