DEEPAVALI is a festival of light. It is a celebration of victory, prosperity and gaiety. It is also the season of worship of Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. This is the occasion for Indians to exchange gifts and be at their generous best.
There are many legends associated with Deepavali. Why is it that lamps and crackers play such an explicit role in the festivity of Deepavali? The versions might vary from region to region. Even the manner of celebration might differ. But this is the most universal and boisterous of all Indian festivals.
One of the narratives, prominent in many parts of the country is that this was the day when Sri Ram after the great conquest of Lanka arrived in Ayodhya after 14 years in exile, resplendent and triumphant in the Pushpak Vimana with Maa Sita (who is the incarnation of Lakshmi), Lakshman and Hanuman. Ayodhya, in fact the whole of India, erupted in unbounded joy, with great fanfare. It was the moment the country was waiting for long.
Sri Ram’s return to his palace. He was fulfilling a promise to his younger brother Bharat, to come back, without any delay, to hold the reins of Ayodhya, at the end of the last day of the 14-year exile. The entire country waited impatiently for the defeat of the demon and Sri Ram’s early arrival. Bharat had vowed to immolate himself if Sri Ram did not keep his promise. The country needed its emperor. It was the success of virtuousness, dharma prevailed over adharma. Sri Ram had to return. For the ascend of Bharat. For establishing Ramrajya, the Kingdom of righteousness. Since that day, we don’t know for how many millennia, the nation, the Hindu nation has worshipped Lakshmi and celebrated Deepavali, marking the ushering in of a blissful new dawn.
Ayodhya was always known as Sri Ram’s Nagari. It has always been sacred for the Hindus. Perhaps it is because of this, to humiliate the natives, the invaders plundered and ravaged the city to rubbles and the sacred temple that existed on the birth place of Sri Ram was destroyed in 1528 to build a mosque in the name of Babur, who then led the tyranny. Since then Hindus have been battling to restore the holy city and rebuild the Sri Ram temple. This Deepavali after 482 years, offers a flicker of hope to attain that goal. This Deepavali Special is devoted to that campaign which has withstood the test and travesty of time. Our contributors have all in some way or other been either part of that campaign or witness to its unfolding. All are unanimous that a grand Sri Ram Temple at the Ramjanmabhoomi will mark the onset of the new India, a historic continuum of a glorious civilisation.
The three-member Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in a historic judgment restored the holy Ramjanmabhoomi to the Hindus paving the way for the construction of a grand Sri Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Though the three judges gave separate and different judgments, there were great concurrences in substance of the three verdicts. This has unambiguously settled most of the core issues that were brought before the judiciary for resolution.
The court has made four things clear. That the disputed site, where a makeshift temple stands since December 6, 1992 is the birth place of Sri Ram, that this has been for over thousands of years the faith and belief of all Hindus, that there existed a grand Hindu temple before it was demolished or removed to build the Babri structure, that since it was built on debris of a temple, according to Islamic tenets the disputed structure cannot be considered a mosque. It was on the premise of all these the court upheld the Hindu claim on the Janmabhoomi site. The court further accepted the Ram Lalla Virajman (incarnate Ram Lalla) as a legal entity and owner of the land. The court further by rejecting the petition of the UP Sunni Wakf Board-as it has no locus-standi in the matter as the disputed structure belonged to the Shia community and the Shias and Sunnis don’t worship in each other’s place-in a way cleared the path for the total control of the land by the Hindus. The Sunni Board has threatened to go on appeal in the apex court. But the court has vindicated all the vital contentions of the Hindu devotees.
This Special Issue is a tribute to all sections of the society, who by various means helped this cause. We are all eternally indebted to their invaluable service.
The Ramjanmabhoomi Temple is not just another temple. It is a symbol of India’s proud heritage, history, tradition and faith. Because Sri Ram is revered by all Indians-he is not worshipped just only as an incarnation but he is the identity of all that is unique, integral and noble about the Hindu race.
It has been a long wait for the Hindus. For 482 years since the demolition and the building of the disputed structure Hindus have fought, with abundant faith and unwavering patience – both violently and peacefully – legally and sometimes taking law in their hands, to liberate the Janmabhoomi of Sri Ram. It is all far from settled. It might take many more years. The court case was going on for the last six decades. That for so many generations the Hindus have not given up their claim on the sacred site, and for always it is a matter of great emotional appeal and intense faith shows the depth of the Hindu sentiment. This verdict at last brings us closer to a final settlement. In that hope we celebrate this Deepavali.