The wait of centuries has ended, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after performing the groundbreaking ceremony here for a temple at the spot where many devout Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.
Across the country, people remained glued to their television sets as Modi performed rituals at the Ram Janmabhoomi, the site of a bitter Hindu-Muslim conflict that lasted decades before being settled by the Supreme Court last year.
Beginning his speech with “Jai Siya Ram”, the prime minister told the gathering that a grand temple will now be built for “Ram Lalla”, the infant Ram, who had been living in a temporary tent for years.
“Many people made sacrifices for the Ram temple. I pay my respects to all of them,” the prime minister said in the speech that followed the laying of the foundation for the Ram temple.
He also released a postage stamp to mark the event, an occasion which is also being seen as an ideological victory of the BJP over its rivals. (All updates here. Please allow the Live Blog below a few seconds to open)
Sending out the message that 'Ram is everywhere, Ram belongs to all', Modi said the temple symbolises India's rich heritage and will be an inspiration to all of humanity.
Despite efforts to eradicate Lord Ram's existence, he lives in our hearts and is the basis of our culture, Modi said.
Citing Lord Ram's message, Modi said the more powerful India gets, the more it will be loved and remain peaceful.
'Social harmony was the core principle of Lord Ram's governance,' the prime minister said.
Some of the leaders of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, including former deputy prime minister L K Advani were not at among the 175 people invited to the venue, with the organizers keeping the guest list short because of the threat of COVID-19.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust head Nritya Gopal Das were on the dais along with the PM, consecrating the very first bricks that will go into building the temple. (PTI)