At precisely 12:29 pm, a multitude of individuals in Mumbai and various parts of Maharashtra joyously marked the 'Pran Prathisthan' of Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhya. This jubilation unfolded through vibrant processions, special poojas, resonant prayers and hymns, the melodic ringing of temple bells, triumphant cries of 'Jai Shree Ram,' the colorful spray of 'gulal,' the crackling of fireworks, and the distribution of sweet 'prasad' and 'maha-prasad' on a Monday afternoon.
The revelry extended to the majority of the approximately 4,500 Hindu temples scattered across the city, ranging from grand and ancient ones to popular and magnificent ones, each dedicated to various deities and drawing millions of devotees daily.
Since the preceding Sunday, temples citywide had been adorned with floral decorations, with marigolds taking center stage alongside a mix of 'tulsi,' lotuses, hibiscus, creating an atmosphere that felt both divine and enchanting.
As night fell, many temples transformed into colorful spectacles illuminated by twinkling fairy lights and small ghee-oil lamps, casting a warm golden glow symbolizing a second Diwali, welcoming Lord Ram to his abode in Ayodhya.
Urban housing complexes in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Nashik were also bedecked with flowers and illuminated with Diwali-style lanterns to commemorate the joyous occasion.
Setting itself apart, the Maharashtra government declared a full holiday, allowing numerous families, including seniors and children, to partake in the festivities by visiting the nearest temple, with enthusiastic participation from various communities.
In anticipation of the Ayodhya Pran Pratisthan rituals, which saw the attendance of VIPs and celebrities, including notable figures from Mumbai's business and Bollywood sectors, many temples had undertaken a special cleanliness drive, guided by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in the preceding weeks.
Following the CM's directive, three major temples in each of the 24 Wards of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) underwent thorough scrubbing and deep-cleaning daily, presenting a sparkling appearance for the grand day on January 22.
While Mumbai boasts hundreds of Lord Ram Temples, a select few stand out due to their unique history, traditions, and the sentiments of devotees, such as the Ram Mandirs in Borivali, Goregaon, Vile Parle, Dadar, Wadala, Bhuleshwar, and Walkeshwar, which experienced massive crowds from early in the day.
Numerous temples made special arrangements with LED screens for live telecasts of the Ayodhya ceremonies, 'hom-havans,' 'aartis,' special idols of Lord Ram and Sita, post-pooja 'prasad,' and 'maha-prasad' (meal) for the multitude of devotees. Additionally, special 'maha-prasad' was organized for the impoverished residents of Dharavi slums.
Several major temples extended their festivities over three consecutive days, featuring a plethora of religious, social, and cultural events.
Beyond Mumbai, Dombivali town lit up with 111,111 oil lamps to herald the consecration of the Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Renowned chef Vishnu Manohar prepared a staggering six tonnes of 'special halwa' in a giant 'kadhai' for lakhs of devotees at the Shri Mahalakshmi Jagdamba Temple. Other celebrations included a chariot procession in Pune and a lively march featuring a gigantic idol of Lord Ram in Mira Road town (Thane).
Throughout coastal Konkan and tribal pockets in Thane, Palghar, Nandurbar, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, and Wardha, hundreds of Ram Mandirs were adorned with flags and festoons, illuminated with oil lamps, and prayers resonated in the mofussil areas, amplifying the festive spirit.
(With Agency Inputs)