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It’s like a dream coming true for Hindu nationalists after decades of anticipation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is gearing up for the inauguration of a massive Hindu temple, and he hopes that the likelihood of winning the third term in the upcoming elections will strengthen in a few months.

Although it hasn’t been completed yet, Modi is fulfilling a long-standing promise to build a Hindu temple on the site where a 16th-century mosque once stood, destroyed more than 30 years ago by a Hindu crowd.

As a result, the ceremony on Monday is highly controversial. While many Hindus will be celebrating its inauguration, for the country’s minority Muslim population, it serves as a painful reminder of religious division, raising fears of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government becoming more overtly aligned with Hindu nationalism.

Here’s what you need to know:

What’s happening in Ayodhya on Monday?

In a consecration ceremony organized by Modi inside the temple’s sanctum sanctorum, an idol of Lord Rama will be unveiled.

More than 7,000 people have been invited to personally participate in the ceremony, including high-profile politicians coming from all over the country. According to local media reports, there is an expectation of the landing of around 100 chartered planes in Ayodhya on Monday, causing an increase in hotel prices and last-minute bookings.

Since January 16, priests have been performing prayers and rituals, carrying the idol into the temple premises. Senior BJP leaders have given numerous televised interviews about the events, and Indian news channels have provided 24/7 coverage of the temple festivities.

The event is also expected to be broadcast on large TV screens in Indian embassies abroad and New York’s Times Square.

Before the ceremony, Modi observed an 11-day religious practice immersed in Hindu symbols, fasting, and prayers. In a recorded message on his YouTube channel, he said, “During the consecration, the Lord has made me a means to represent all the people of India.”

“I ask for your blessings,” Modi continued. The consecration of the Ram Temple has become a means for me to represent the dignity of all Indians during my lifetime.”

Why is the Ram Temple so controversial?

The temple’s site was once home to the Babri Masjid, a mosque built in the 16th century during Mughal rule, which lasted from 1526 to 1858.

However, many Hindus believe that the Babri Masjid was built on the ruins of a Hindu temple, allegedly destroyed by the first Mughal emperor of South Asia, Babur.

This site is significant to them because they consider it to be the birthplace of Lord Rama, now honored with the construction of the new Ram Temple. Hindu nationalist groups campaigned for years to destroy the mosque to build a temple in its place. In 1992, following incitement by the BJP and other right-wing groups, Hindu extremists attacked the mosque with hammers, triggering widespread communal violence.

The series of retaliatory attacks resulted in the targeting of dozens of temples and mosques, with over 2,000 people killed across the country, making it one of the worst instances of violence in India since independence in 1947.

In subsequent years, Hindu nationalists held rallies to build a Ram Temple in place of the destroyed mosque, becoming a deeply emotional and politically charged issue that persisted for decades. In 2019, the Supreme Court of India granted permission for Hindus to build a temple at the disputed site, resolving the dispute.

While seen as a victory for Modi and his supporters, it was a shock for Muslims, for whom the destruction of the Babri Masjid remains a deeply painful and divisive issue.



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