LUCKNOW: Diwali, the festival of lights which is celebrated to mark the homecoming of Lord Ram after spending 14 years in exile, will be a three-day extravaganza from November 3 to 5, this year, in Ayodhya in the presence of UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
Unlike last year, when it was just a day's affair, this time the festival would be a colossal celebration witnessing the presence of not only CM but also Governor Ram Naik, entire cabinet of UP government besides some central ministers. Such a gala show in Ayodhya at a time when 2019 Lok Sabha elections are inching closer can have political connotations.
Expanding just one-day celebration, as was witnessed last year, to three days this time with the CM himself hosting it making the political observers perceive it as a major push to the saffron agenda of Hindutva in the run up to the 2019 general elections.
For the celebrations in Ayodhya, the state government has reportedly hired a professional agency and consultant to manage the grand show. The agency had made a presentation in connection with the planned event a couple of days back in front of the CM with chief secretary Anoop Chandra Pandey and minister and officials of the culture department in tow. The CM gave a go ahead to the celebrations, largest ever by any state government.
However, the highly-placed official sources confirmed that this time the celebrations would be having additional features including Ram Lila by national and international troupes, recitation of bhajans and other activities.
"Last year only the banks of Saryu were lit with earthen lamps, this time around the entire temple town would dazzle with the lights and lamps for full three days amidst various religious and cultural events marking the festival of lights," said a senior official. Besides, the state government has also announced to install world's tallest statue of Lord Ram on the banks of Saryu. "Ayodhya is synonymous to Lord Ram, so the intention is to give the temple town is identity by installing a grand statue of the deity," the CM had said at a recent interaction with media persons. Moreover, a slew of development projects including heritage walk, museum on Lord Rama's life and times and a Ramayana circuit have been launched by the Yogi government to put Ayodhya on global map. Even more, the PM had recently flagged off a direct bus service from Janakpur in Nepal to Ayodhya.
The Yogi government is already giving hard push to the Hindu religious festivals. Upcoming Kumbh Mela is likely to be another unprecedented event in the Sangam city with global and national pilgrims thronging Prayag on the occasion in January 2019. Foreign embassies and the NRIs are also being approached by the state government to witness the congregation of the saints and seers with lakhs of pilgrims on the banks of holy river Ganga in Prayag.