LUCKNOW: Ayodhya glittered with a record 5.5 lakh diyas presenting a spectacular view on Diwali eve on Saturday.
UP Governor Anandi Ben Patel, Union Minister Prahlad Joshi and UP Yogi Adityanath led the battery of ministers to participate in Deepotsav, the festival of lights in Ayodhya. The CM welcomed the symbolic Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman who descended at the banks of river Saryu by a ‘pushapk viman’ recreating the 'Treta Yug', the period when Lord Ram ruled.
The CM performed the ‘Rajyabhishek ‘ (coronation) at a stage erected as an imitation of the 'courtroom of a grand palace' at Ram Katha Park and performed ‘maha aarti’ of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman. This was followed by Ramlila performances thereafter. Moreover, a 'Ram Darbar' was installed at the Ram Ki Paidi ghat also.
This year, of the 5.50 lakh lamps, around 4 lakh were lit at Ram Paidi, while the rest at other religious locations in the city. A team from the Guinness Book of World Records was also present to document the feat.
Sharing his love and allegiance to the temple town, CM Yogi claimed that previous dispensations used to avoid visiting Ayodhya but he had visited the temple town at least over a dozen times during the last two and a half years of his tenure.
Earlier, the day took off with a gathering of artists from across the globe in the temple town for deepotsav procession, a symbolic descent of Lord Rama and Seeta, as a part of festivities.
In the morning tableau procession of Lord Rama was organised depicting various acts of the life and times of Lord Ram since his birth till his return to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. In the tableau procession taken out on 11 chariots, artists from various parts of the country narrated Ram Lila through folklore while passing through various routes across the temple town.
The chief guest on the occasion, Veena Bhatnagar, Speaker of the Republic of Fiji, flagged off the tableau procession from Saket College and it ended at Ram Katha park in which artists both national and international took part. The CM reached Ayodhya in the afternoon and joined the people of temple town in welcoming Lord Ram and Sita.
But organising Deepotsav in Ayodhya on such a large scale, the UP government endeavours to give a hard push to religious tourism in the state. As per sources, over Rs 130 crore was allocated by the government for the preparations this time. “The vision behind Deepotsav is not just spiritual, but also boosting tourism in the area," said a senior BJP leader.
In the last cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Deepotsav Mela was granted the status of State fair by the government. With this change in status, deepotsav will now be planned by the District Magistrate of Ayodhya instead of the Tourism Department annually.
The CM dedicated 15 mega projects worth Rs 373.69 crore to the people of the holy city during the Deepotsav programme on Saturday.
Though Diwali is being celebrated in the temple town for the last three years as deepotsav since Yogi Adityanath took over as state CM, this year’s celebrations assume significance as the mega event coincides with the Supreme Court reserving the order in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute.
Ayodhya had broken a Guinness World Record 6 November 2018, by lighting 3.51 lakh earthen lamps and keeping them burning for at least 45 minutes on the banks of the river Saryu as part of Diwali celebrations.
Meanwhile, restrictions under Section 144 were imposed on Ayodhya until 10 December in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute case.