Hindu shrines in America get ready for grand consecration ceremony of Ayodhya’s Ram temple

Ritu Jha–

Hindu temples across the US are preparing for the “big day” – the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, India. Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) is spearheading the campaign to ensure that the celebrations and rituals in Ayodhya are echoed in the US. VHPA says it has focused all its resources on enrolling all the 1143 Hindu temples in the US, 430 of which have already expressed a wish to be part of the Murti Pran Pratistha scheduled to be held on January 15.

READ: indica’s coverage of Ayodhya

Amitabh Mitta, General Secretary, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) told indica, “Official invitations for the Ram Temple inauguration have been sent to 53 countries. The much-sought after event can be attended by invitation only as people from across the globe wish to attend the function at Ayodhya. Only those with valid invites or officials on government duty will be allowed to enter Ayodhya on January 22, the day of the consecration ceremony at the newly constructed Ram Temple. The Uttar Pradesh government has instructed Ayodhya officials to ask local hotel owners to cancel advance bookings by other people and give preference to those invited by the trust,” Mitta added.

WATCH: A video by Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America on the Ram Temple consecration

Mitta said that out of the 8,000 VHPA members in the US, only one person, “our past general secretary Gaurang Vaishnav, has been invited.” Vaishnav has been associated with VHPA since its inception. “We have been spreading the message among people and all temples in the US. We are making all necessary preparations to celebrate January 22 as a festival at homes, and temples and also witness the installation of the Ram Lalla idol in Ayodhya on the internet and TV,” Mitta said.

Several gurudwaras in the US have also shown interest in being part of the festivities. “The New Jersey Gurdwara is organizing a big program on January 21,” Mitta told indica.

In India, Ayodhya is being decked up in the build-up to the consecration ceremony of Ram Mandir on January 22. However, rituals will begin a week in advance in Ayodhya on January 16. A recitation of Ram Charitmanas and Hanuman Chalisa will be held in temples across the state till the consecration ceremony. The Pran Pratistha ceremony will be attended by more than 6,000 invitees including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Mittal is on a mission to convince people to visit temples and join the festivities and rituals. “We are urging people to go to the temples when the idol installation takes place in India. People should watch that program live on TV at the temple, not at home. At their home, they should light at least five lamps on the evening of January 21. We hope people celebrate the homecoming of Lord Ram like Diwali on January 22,” he added.

The VHPA has also made arrangements to distribute ‘prasad’ brought from Ayodhya at all the temples in the US. “Each temple will receive ‘prasad’ from India that will come to us and we will send it to the temples that have registered with us to conduct the program. Priests of the temples have also been invited to join us online and initiate the puja for the Pran Pratistha on January 15.”

Shiv Aggarwal, past president of VHPA, Atlanta, is not going to Ayodhya this time because it is going to be hectic but he plans to visit the Ram Mandir later this year. “By that time I am expecting all the renovation, even the road system, should be complete. I want to experience a train ride from Delhi to Ayodhya. In the next five years, we will see tremendous development in Ayodhya and places nearby – in a 15-mile radius,” Aggarwal told indica.

He is from New Delhi and has been living in the US for 41 years of which he has spent 37 years in Atlanta. “The struggle to build the Ram temple in Ayodhya is nothing new, it has been going on for centuries. Some of our senior leaders of VHP of India have been working on this and asking the government to help build the temple over there. Unfortunately, we did not get proper support for the last 70 years. Finally, when the BJP came to power, they started a better initiative,” he added.

Aggarwal says he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 1996 when he was a VHP worker visiting the US. “The vision was there even then. He spoke about uniting Hindus and doing the good thing for the community, and India. He wanted to make India stronger. Even in those days, his mind was focused on doing something for our country, heritage, and culture,” he added.

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