The foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram Temple on Wednesday 5th August that was telecast live on tv brought cheers on the faces of many in India who found some solace at a time of the pandemic which has dealt severe blows to the health and economy of the people. The virus has even affected the way the ceremony was held as opposed to the grand celebrations initially planned after the Supreme Court announced its decision in November 2019. The ceremony was attended by limited number of VIPs with even the main charioteer of “RamRath” – Lal Krishna Advani virtually attending the ceremony “due to the current situation”. Even the “Ram-Lakshman Jodi” of Modi-Amit Shah was missing as the Home Minister was admitted to a private hospital after catching the virus. The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi laid the brick in presence of his RSS mentor Mohan Bhagwat accompanied by the UP’s CM Yogi Adityanath. The bhoomi poojan is said to have given India the confidence for making India “self-reliant” as Mohan Bhagwat asserted.
The laying of the foundation stone by the Prime Minister of India and the joy expressed by many in India show that people are deeply connected to their religions and the idea of India as the land of the religious, the spiritual is reinforced. That religion and people are inseparable. India is an amalgam of different cultures, languages and religions. From a plain reading of the Supreme Court’s decision on Ayodhya it can be deduced that it was in the spirit of India’s cultural co-existence that the Supreme Court decided to hand over the land to those who devoutly believed that the land was holy to them while at the same time allotting another piece of land to those who the Court believed could equally practise their faith on a separate land. However, in attaching importance to mutual respect among religions the Supreme Court also declared the vandalism and destruction of the Muslim place of worship as “egregious violation of the rule of law”. The Supreme Court ordered the construction of the mosque along with that of the temple. The Supreme Court’s decision was welcomed by people and the matter was seen as finally settled.
While the ruling BJP had promised the construction of the temple it had also promised “sabka saath sabka vikas”. The construction of the mosque alongside the construction of the temple and their near completion around 2024 should be the parallel objective of the Prime Minister of India to promote inter-faith harmony. The U.P government can also hold talks with the Sunni Waqf Board of U.P. which accepted the allotted land from government to check the Board’s plans on construction of the mosque. The unease among Muslims should be removed in the interests of promoting communal harmony.
Congress also forwarded a message of “unity”, “justice” and “compassion” with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra saying that it was an occasion for “national unity, fraternity” and Rahul Gandhi also commented saying that Ram stood for “compassion”, “love” and “justice” and not “hatred” or “cruelty”. Indeed, unity and compassion are the binding forces of the Indian culture and the Supreme Court appears to have envisaged this through its decision.