Spruced-up roads, streets illuminated with strings of coloured lights, saffron flags with Jai Shree Ram inscribed on them hung on stalls and several buildings – were seen on most parts of Punjab on the eve of the Ram Mandir consecration ceremony in Ayodhya. The mood was remarkably upbeat, with people coming out into the streets and painting the town ‘saffron’.
While a three-hour Ramleela programme was organised in Bathinda on Sunday evening, Gidderbaha town (Muktsar district) will be organising Ramleela on Monday evening after the Ram Mandir “pran pratishtha” (consecration ceremony) in Ayodhya. In Ludhiana all leading roads have been given a facelift to mark the inauguration of the much-awaited temple. Devotees have also brought a Ram Shila (stone) from Ram Setu (TN) and it has been put on display in a temple on Hambaran Road in Ludhiana. Many devotees were seen thronging the temple to take a glimpse of Ram Shila. Also, Devi Talaab temple in Jalandhar on Sunday announced to light 1.21 lakh diyas in the temple complex on Monday (January 22) evening, the arrangements for which have already started on the temple premises.
“A miniature model of Ayodhya Ram Mandir made by local artists in Bathinda was displayed in the entire city on Saturday while organising a ‘Shobha Yatra’. Now, it has been placed in the ‘Gaushala’ of Bathinda. The mood is so upbeat on the ground, people are so enthusiastic that they were coming in their hordes to celebrate the occasion on the eve of the big event,” said Sarup Chand Singla, former Bathinda MLA and current Bathinda district president of BJP, while speaking to The Indian Express.
A Ramleela programme was organised on Bhatti Road of Bathinda on Sunday evening wherein the entire Ramayan epic was staged in three hours. “We staged the Ramayan – starting from Ram Lalla’s birth till ‘Rajyabhishek’ in Ayodhya after Shri Ramchandra ji came back to Ayodhya. Our artistes have been staging Ramleela for years now,” said Prem Garg, a member of Ramleela committee of Bathinda, while talking to The Indian Express.
Traffic islands and roundabouts in Bathinda were decked up with artistic floral designs, and so was the case in Muktsar and even Mansa markets. Most of the buildings were illuminated with saffron colour for Monday’s grand event. Kridha Arts from Chandigarh will be coming to Gidderbaha on Monday evening to stage Ramleela which will continue till night. Politicians across the party lines have been invited for this programme.
“In the morning, residents will watch live telecast of the temple ceremony from Ayodhya, and from 4 pm onwards, bhajans will be performed by various local artistes, Ramleela will be staged in Satta Bazar of the city which will continue till late night. In short, celebrations will continue for the whole day, residents are leaving no stone unturned to paint the town saffron,” said Amrit Goyal, press secretary, Sri Sai Mandir Sewa Samiti, which is organising the Ramleela.
Singla said, “Over 300 langars will be organised in Bathinda city area alone. People are making the arrangements on their own.”
Naresh Kumar Sehgal, president of All India Hindu Welfare Society (Punjab) and a resident of Kotkapura, said, “We will be unveiling idols of Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita (after observing all the rituals) at a temple in Kotkapura on Monday. It will be followed by bhajan kirtan. It will be another Diwali celebration for us.”
Ludhiana temples were decked up and approach roads like Ferozepur Road, Chandigarh Road, Jalandhar Bypass Road, South City area, Model Town, Sarabha Nagar, Chaura Bazar, the Old City area and several other areas were already spruced up on Saturday. Hundreds of langars will be organised on Monday for the whole day, said Rajnish Dhiman, president of Ludhiana district BJP unit.
Jeevan Gupta, senior BJP leader, did sewa in Nanaksar Kaleran Jagraon Gurdwara on Sunday to mark the solemnity of the occasion. Shobha Yatras have been organised in all the 23 districts of Punjab. While Shobha Yatra was taken out in Moga, Abohar and Fazilka towns on Sunday, in Barnala, it will be taken out after the “pran pratishtha”, revealed information.
Meanwhile, Trident group of industries has declared holiday on Monday in all their units across the country on account of the Ram Mandir inaugural event.
LED screens booked in advance; Akali Dal leader tries his luck, but in vain
Akali Dal leader Anil Joshi tried hard but could not get a big LED screen for an event he is organising in Amritsar. He was to play live on big screen the Ram temple consecration ceremony which will take place in Ayodhya on Monday.
“Temples and others have already booked the large LED screens. There is no availability,” Joshi, a former BJP leader who is now one of the Hindu faces of Akali Dal said.
What he said has happened not only in Amritsar, but across the cities and towns as nation celebrates and the religious euphoria grips people over the “pran pratishtha” (consecration ceremony) of Ram Lalla idol at the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Majority of those involved in renting out LED screens and projectors say they have run out of audio-visual paraphernalia due to massive bookings for the event. “I have four bookings and out of these I had to get one LED screen by outsourcing. The demand is still pouring in with people making calls, but there is no availability of screens with anyone now in the city,” said Harpreet Singh of Music Waves in Amritsar.
Jalandhar based C L Soni and Company’s Rajeev said, “Cricket world cup final vich vi aini demand nahi aayi si jini hun aayi hai (The demand has surpassed the one in cricket world cup). We are totally packed.”
Rajeev who deals in projectors, said, “People are very enthusiastic for ceremony at Ayodhya. I had nine units to offer and all have been rented out. To meet the further demand, I checked from Ludhiana and Chandigarh businesses, but they don’t have equipment left to offer either.”
As the ceremony would be held during the day, those into audio-visual business tell that while projectors were good for indoors only for such events for a good viewing experience, LED screens could be installed in the open as well.
But, that seems to have little effect as people are going for whatever they can to watch the event on big screen.
Suresh Kumar, who works as a manager with a firm renting out projectors in Delhi said, “We had 45 projectors. All have been booked and installed. These have been booked by temple managements, various organisations, residential colonies and flats.”
Suresh tells that each projector that had been installed had been rented for Rs 2000 per day.
In Zirakpur, Rohit has rented out three 12 feet by 10 feet LED screens, one each in Kalka, Baltana and Kharar. “I was getting more orders, but don’t have the manpower to manage. At least three to four persons are required to manage these LCDs at every respective site.” In Patiala, Dishang who runs Star DJ Patiala said, “We got bookings for 16 screens. I have got more than 20 queries with people asking for the big screens for the event.”