In the bustling streets of Ayodhya, a microcosm of India unfolds as friends from Kolkata converse in Bengali, Gujarat's culinary maestros prepare 'bhandara' meals, and a vendor from Pune sells the iconic 'pheta' headgear from Maharashtra. This diverse tapestry converges in Ayodhya, driven by the magnetic allure of the Ram temple. Saffron flags dominate the cityscape, but amidst the sea of devotees on Ram Path, glimpses of the tricolor also flutter, symbolizing the upcoming celebration of India's 75th Republic Day.
The Ram temple complex, witnessing an influx of around five lakh devotees on its first day open to the public, welcomes visitors from various corners of the country. From Kolkata to Maharashtra, people arrive by diverse means, including bicycles and foot travel, bringing with them the vibrant colors and rich cultures of their regions.
Ram Path, Ayodhya's central thoroughfare, remains congested as the fervor of religious enthusiasm grips the city. This bustling street mirrors a 'mini India,' with a kaleidoscope of languages, traditional attires, and cultural expressions on vivid display, day and night.
Three colleagues from Kolkata, adorned in matching saffron attire and religious 'patka,' engage in 'adda' before their visit to the Hanuman Garhi temple. Meanwhile, a group from Maharashtra converses in Marathi, contributing to the multilingual symphony echoing through Ram Path and Lata Mangeshkar Chowk.
A civic society from Ahmedabad organizes a massive 'bhandara' along Ram Path, serving delectable dishes like 'khichdi,' 'puri sabzi,' and 'bundi' to devotees hailing from diverse regions. This gesture of unity transcends barriers of religion and caste, epitomizing the harmonious coexistence embedded in India's diverse fabric.
A group from Pune sells saffron 'pheta,' a traditional headgear, to devotees for Rs 100 each. As visitors from Maharashtra proudly wear this headgear, the streets resonate with a visual representation of cultural diversity.
Palash Thange and Mayur Bhor, devotees from Maharashtra, express their enchantment with Ayodhya's decorations and express a desire to extend their stay in the city. Meanwhile, Gaddamidhi Teja, an MBA student from Telangana, marvels at the city's illumination as he explores Ayodhya with the aim of seeking the blessings of Ram Lalla.
Ayodhya itself stands as a testament to diversity, hosting shrines associated with Jainism and Sikhism alongside mosques, creating a picturesque blend of cultures. Vaibhav Malik, a chartered accountant from Haryana, believes that Ayodhya's history of dispute and subsequent litigation serves as a draw for many, adding to the city's magnetic appeal.
As Ayodhya prepares to celebrate the 75th Republic Day, the spirit of India resonates deeply in the heart of the 'land of Lord Ram.'
(With Agency Inputs)