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He sat there at his regular spot, watching the city from his perch. He had been doing this for eons now & save a few times when this city had experienced a spike in activity the place was always quite. No one who didn’t know its name would have identified it as one of the holiest cities of a million of people. But there had been a steady inflow of people into the city from the past few days. People came, they surveyed, gave instructions, more people came, carried out the instructions. It was his second favourite time of the year, the first being Ram Navmi. And he would have preferred to spend it reminiscing the celebrations from centuries ago, the joy on the faces of the people, their radiant smiles, the streets strewn with flowers, the bright diyas still glowing warmly in the recesses of his mind. But the Kaliyugis seemed hell bent on spoiling his Diwali. 

***

On the occasion of Narak Chaturdashi Yogi Adityanath, the CM of Uttar Pradesh had organized a grand celebration in Ayodhya, the birth place of Shri Ram. The city & the banks of the Sharyu were decked up in lakhs of earthen lamps which were lit up by volunteers. Once dusk fell the sight that met the eye transported crores of Hindus to a eon or two ago. Even the ever complaining news channel had headlines mentioning how for the first time since the Treta Yug  Ayodhya had been readied to welcome its King. Every devotee’s eyes brimmed with tears as he remembered his God, the history of this city which was full of blood & betrayal, the dead karsevaks, the injustices meted out first by the Mughals & then by the the Indian Government as much a part of its story as Ram.

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Images not mine

Just last week I had the misfortune of reading up about Ayodhya on a blog. I say misfortune because it pained me a great deal to see one of the seven holiest cities of the Hindus lie ignored. I had always assumed that Ayodhya too like Dwaraka would be a bustling city full of tourists. So the blog proved to be an eye opener as well as a shock. The blogger had written how there was not a single hotel in the city where you could stay the night & even getting a travelogue on it was impossible. While the Vatican & Mecca prosper under the care of their respective Governments, it took us Indians almost 7 decades after Independence to even celebrate Diwali in Ramjanmabhoomi. The heart weeps at how indifferent the average Hindu is to his own religion.

While I could catch only a brief glimpse of the LIVE celebrations I did manage to see it all in the news later. With the welcoming of Ram & Sita to Ayodhya, to the aarti of Sarayu & of course the brilliance of thousands of lamps which made the city shine as bright as day everything was well organized. There was also a laser show highlighting key events from Ramayan.

It felt good to see a Hindu festival being celebrated in a Hindu manner. Nothing against sipping wine & exchanging chocolates, but I would keep that for the Christmas & New Year parties. On Diwali I prefer this bhartiya celebration full of Poojas & retellings of the stories of OUR heroes.

Jai Shri Ram! _/\_

 

***

His heart sang with joy as the welcome sounds of aartis, bells & the praises of Ram reached his ears. That too after the state election, instead of before it?! Finally, it was Diwali.

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