Around 175 guests, including 135 seers from across the country and kin of the ‘kar sevaks’ killed in police firing in 1990, have been invited to attend the foundation ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on August 5, the Trust, which will be building it, said on Monday.
Only five persons, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, will be on stage, said Champat Rai, general secretary of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra (Trust).
Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti, however, said on Twitter that she would not be present at the event as she was concerned about Mr. Modi’s health over COVID-19, following some party leaders testing positive, and would only go to the site once he and other dignitaries left.
The other persons on the stage would be Mahant Nrityagopal Das, head of the Trust, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel.
Iqbal Ansari, who was a litigant in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case, and local resident Mohammad Shareef, who was awarded Padma Shri for years of performing the last rites of unclaimed bodies, were also invited, said Mr. Rai.
The 135 seers belonged to 36 spiritual traditions and would also include the priest of the Janaki temple in Nepal, he added.
The family members of some persons who lost their lives in the police firing on ‘kar sevaks’ in 1990 in Ayodhya during the height of the VHP-RSS spearheaded movement, including the sister of the Kothari brothers from Kolkata, have also been invited.
The Trust started distributing the invitation cards on Monday and emphasised that they came with security codes that allowed entry only once and were non-transferable.
On Wednesday, Mr. Modi would first offer prayers at the Hanumangarhi temple and follow it up with puja at the present makeshift temple site where the idol of infant Lord Ram is kept and then the bhoomi pujan and stage event, the Trust said.
The idol of Lord Ram will don a green dress during the ceremony. Mr. Rai criticised those questioning the choice of colour. He said the dress worn daily by infant Lord Ram idol was picked the head priest, who did not make changes under anyone’s influence.
“All trees around us are green, do you see Islam in it? Green is the symbol of prosperity of India and the colour of nature”, Mr. Rai said at a press conference. It was not a matter pertaining to the PMO, the CMO or the Trust, he noted.
Mr. Rai also said that the “original drawing” of the temple would remain “as it is” and only certain portions would be added as the Trust has now got almost 70 acres in possession. When the Ram Janmabhoomi movement started in 1985, they had only 14,000 sq feet of land in mind. “In 1986, we didn’t even think in our dreams that we would get 70 acres”, he said.
Design to be retained
While the design of the main parts of the temple would be retained, two additional domes would be added on the sides while the height of one of the domes and one floor would be increased, he said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, invites were sent to a limited number of people, the Trust said, adding that those unable to attend were offered personal apologies through telephone after they explained their reasons. Due to age factor and religious constraints of Chaturmas, some people would not be unable to attend, Mr. Rai said.
“How can a person over 90 years of age attend? How can [K] Parasaran ji come from Chennai”, he asked.
On Wednesday, Mr. Modi would also launch a ₹5 stamp ticket of the image of the Ram temple.