Ayodhya’s New Ram Temple: A Pivotal Milestone in India’s Journey

Ayodhya's New Ram Temple: A Pivotal Milestone in India's Journey

Ayodhya's New Ram Temple: A Pivotal Milestone in India's Journey

January 22 has already passed, and it held great significance for India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described it as more than just a date on the calendar; he called it the beginning of a new era. According to him, it marked a shift in consciousness, from the divine to the nation, from Ram Temple to the entire nation. He even claimed that this day laid the foundation for India’s next 1,000 years.

Following the prime minister’s lead, a respected national daily proclaimed that January 22 heralded the awakening of the collective consciousness of the nation. Another publication declared it as a moment for India to redefine itself. The argument put forth was that Hindu divinity is central to India’s identity, and therefore, all minorities, including Muslims and Christians, should accept its supremacy and live their lives accordingly.

On January 22, India hailed the dawn of a ‘divine’ era with the consecration of an idol of Ram in a newly constructed Ayodhya temple. Hindus believe Ayodhya, Ram’s birthplace, to be sacred.

Ayodhya has had numerous temples dedicated to Ram for a long time. However, the Ram temple consecrated on January 22 is unlike any other shrine. A mob associated with Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demolished the Mughal-era mosque, Babri Masjid, in 1992, paving the way for the construction of the new Ram temple on the same site.

The destruction of the 16th-century mosque led to some of the worst religious riots since India’s independence, resulting in the deaths of over 2,000 people, mostly Muslims. It also shook the foundations of India’s officially secular political order.

In a ruling made in 2019, the Supreme Court of India deemed the demolition of the mosque as a severe violation of the rule of law. However, they still permitted the construction of a Ram temple in its place. This decision was perplexing and seemed to defy legal reasoning. The only justification provided was that building a temple there would appease the Hindu majority and bring peace to the country. Nevertheless, it faced significant criticism from jurists both within India and abroad for distorting the concept of justice. Many viewed the judgment as a reward for the crime committed in 1992.

Despite the debates surrounding its legality and morality, the new Ram temple in Ayodhya holds immense symbolism for both Hindus and Muslims in India.

For Prime Minister Modi and his Hindu hardline supporters, it represents national pride and resilience. They perceive it as a means to heal a deep wound inflicted by Muslim “invaders” around 500 years ago, as stated by Home Minister Amit Shah during the consecration ceremony. To them, it stands as a symbol of triumph.

Muslims also commemorate the lives lost, the injured, and those who have suffered economic hardships due to the violent aftermath of the illegal demolition of the Babri mosque. This is why they feel distressed and concerned to witness the support from almost all political parties for the inauguration of the temple, and the endorsement of the country’s influential individuals who hold power over their lives openly rejoicing in it.

Indeed, on January 22, nationwide festivities took place to commemorate the consecration of the controversial temple. In various parts of India, anti-Muslim slogans were chanted, mosques and churches were targeted, and acts of violence against Muslims were reported.

During the consecration ceremony, however, Modi dismissed the notion that this action would escalate communal tensions. He stated, “There were those who used to spread fear and claim that if a Ram temple is built in Ayodhya, there will be chaos. I urge them to visit Ayodhya and experience the positive energy here. Lord Ram symbolizes energy, not destruction. Ram is not the problem, but the solution.”

Naturally, many remained unconvinced by the assertion that the opening of the temple signifies the resolution of all past conflicts, particularly when it comes from a politician who frequently discusses crimes committed by Muslim or Mughal rulers against Hindus and pledges to avenge them.

The consecration of the Ram temple also emboldened those who participated in the demolition of the Babri Mosque. Many of them openly admitted their involvement in this “blatant” crime and proudly granted interviews to the media about it. Numerous retired judges, military officers, and civil servants disclosed their longstanding support for the mosque’s destruction and openly celebrated the inauguration of the new temple.

Therefore, the ceremony on January 22, which included the use of Indian military jets showering the crowds with flower petals, served as a revealing moment for India’s Muslims and other minority groups. Amidst the extravagant celebrations, it became evident to all that majoritarianism now lies at the very heart of India’s governmental structure.

While the Ram temple in Ayodhya undoubtedly represents the strength of Hindutva, the Hindu majoritarian ideology of the BJP and its allies, it also serves as a testament to Modi’s political acumen. By consecrating the temple, the prime minister effectively positioned himself, with the assistance of a compliant media, as the primary facilitator of the vision of Hindu dominance in the nation. Beyond the figure of Ram, Modi took center stage during the ceremony.

The ceremony on January 22, which marked the culmination of Modi’s transition from an elected representative of the people to a monarch who associates his authority with the divine, may have been an intriguing or even entertaining sociological spectacle for external observers. However, for all Indians concerned about the erosion of the fundamental values and principles of the republic, particularly Muslims and other minority groups questioning their place in the country, it represented the climax of a real-life horror story.

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