Mumbai, Jan 22: The spirit of devotion flowed like the Arabian Sea tonight as Mumbai, particularly the coastal suburb of Bandra, witnessed this celebrations for the historic “Pran Pratishtha” (consecration) ceremony of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. From the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link bathed in an graceful light show depicting Lord Ram himself, to
the vibrant streets adorned with saffron flags and echoing with chants of “Jai Shree Ram,” the city resonated with the essence of this momentous occasion.
A retired colonel, Manish Asthana, 67, whom I met at Bazar road’s local temple named “Shree Ram Prasann”. He was there to attend the morning ‘arti’. He said, “This is the first time in the history of independent India that I am witnessing something like this, which makes me feel like I am in a Hindu majority country.” When asked about the whole struggle of Ram Mandir, he added, “First of all, the archaeological evidence was ignored. Then, Rajeev Gandhi’s government refused to resolve the controversy outside the court.
The Places of Worship Act was passed in 1991, barring any dispute on the religious character of a place of worship from going to court. Basically, what I am saying is that one cannot rely on historical evidence, one cannot bank on the democratically elected government, and most importantly, one cannot even go to court, which means all doors towards a peaceful resolution were closed. So, the question that arises here is, did they or did they not push the dispute to be resolved through violent means?”
After walking ahead around hundred meters from there, I met local resident of Bandra, Bhavyani Shahane, 35, at a small ‘pandal’ where the speakers were so loud that it was really tough to talk to someone. But we still managed to talk somehow and she said, “I cannot even express my feelings and emotions in words. We are so lucky to be witnessing this grand moment in history. It seems like I have been time-travelled to the past in ‘Treta Yuga’ where there is only one name echoing all around, which is ‘Jai Shree Ram.'”
The true heart of the festivities lay in the bustling streets of Bandra. Local temples, adorned with elaborate flower arrangements and colorful rangolis, became focal points for prayer and joyous gatherings. Devotees of all ages, dressed in their finest attire, offered flowers and sweets to idols of Lord Ram and Sita, their faces beaming with faith and fervor. The air throbbed with the rhythmic beats of ‘dhol-drums’ and devotional songs, creating an electrifying atmosphere of shared happiness.
An advocate, Yousuf Ali, 53, whom I met at the same ‘pandal’ where Bhavyani met me. Yousuf said, “We are incredibly lucky to be witnessing this grand moment in history. Although there are people who are misinterpreting this celebration as a ‘celebration of violence’, they really do not matter for those who believe this is the celebration of victory of good over evil. And I too believe that celebrating the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ (consecration) has never been about celebrating violence.”
As the night deepened, the chants of “Jai Shree Ram” continued to echo through the streets of Bandra, a proof to the enduring power of faith and tradition. Mumbai’s vibrant celebration of the “Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha” was a touching reminder that even in a city known for its fast-paced life, the timeless values of devotion and community can still unite hearts and illuminate the path forward.
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