Both the governments of Uttar Pradesh and the Centre have made the occasion of Deepavali to make the ancient city Ayodhya to gain spotlight and rekindle the discourse both culturally and in terms of development. Ever since the BJP government came to power in UP, it has been organizing a grand ‘Deepotsav’ on the banks of river Sarayu. This year, Ayodhya Deepotsav has got a ‘state fair’ status with a huge budget.
— Government of UP (@UPGovt) October 23, 2019
Significance of Ayodhya Deepotsav
Deepavali marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. This provides a very meaningful context to Ayodhya Deepotsav. But the event for the first time was conceived and executed only in 2017 with the Yogi-led government coming to power in UP. The world witnessed the splendor of about 1.71 lakh earthen lamps lit on the banks of the Sarayu River back then. The Ayodhya Deepotsav 2019 aims to light 5.51 lakh earthen lamps.
The ‘State Fair’ Status
Cabinet minister and government spokesperson Srikant Sharma explained what it is to be for Ayodhya Deepotsav to have state fair status. As quoted in this report, he said: “At present, the Deepotsava is organised by the state tourism department, but considering the international stature of the fair, the Chief Minister has announced to make it a state fair for its successful organisation. An expenditure of about Rs 133 crore is being estimated for organising this mela.”
It is also reported that the state government has decided to run an audit of the entire event, including the tableaux, in order to stop the misuse of state funds.
If these are the developments that are specific to Ayodhya Deepotsav, what the district is getting for the Deepavali festival is a complete development package. According to a report in UNI, the Chief Minister will unveil 15 projects on the occasion of Deepavali which are worth Rs 373 crore.
The Sustained Efforts in Ayodhya
It is intriguing to see how both the government in Uttar Pradesh and Centre have been making a sustained effort to rejuvenate public discourse on this holy city.
- PM Narendra Modi had facilitated South Korean First Lady’s visit to Ayodhya on November 2018 as the chief guest of Deepotsav. The special relationship between Ayodhya and Korea was brought to popular discourse. 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 Deepavali guest.
- Janakpur in today’s Nepal is the birthplace of Sita. In May 2018, PM Modi and Nepal Prime Minister together flagged off the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service. PM Modi also announced Rs 100 crore for the development of Janakpur.
- In 2018, Faizabad district itself was renamed Ayodhya. The government asserted that it is just restoring the older name.
- UP government has proposed a 251 meters tall statue of Lord Rama in the 100 Acres land of Ayodhya which aims to become a major tourist destination in the years to come.
We leave you with some pictures that show how Ayodhya is preparing for Deepotsav, all taken from Government of UP twitter handle.