Nepal’s Ambassador to India, Shankar P Sharma, on November 16, said the inauguration of the Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya would send a “strong and positive message” to the people of Nepal and have significant importance in strengthening ties between the two countries.
In an exclusive interview with the media, the Nepal envoy said, “I think this inauguration of Ram temple in Ayodhya will give a very strong and positive message to all Nepali people because I’m sure when this is inaugurated, almost everybody in Nepal would like to come and visit this place. So that will also, I think, have a very significant and vital importance in strengthening the Nepal-India relationship.”
Shankar P Sharma stressed that the Ram Temple is “extremely important” to Nepal. He noted that hundreds of thousands of people from Nepal will visit Ayodhya every year in the future.
He said, “This is extremely important in the sense that this is one of the areas, especially Ayodhya, linked to Nepal very strongly because everybody in Nepal knows that Sita, the daughter of Nepal, was married to Rama. So, every year, they have the procession from Ayodhya.
“Even today, I think every year they have a procession of grooms procession basically from Ayodhya to Janakpur, and they have a big festival in Nepal every year. We also have what we call Bivah mandap in Janakpur, and hundreds of thousands of people come and visit that place, not only the birthplace of Sita, but also this Bivah mandap. So, in that sense, I think this is extremely important for Nepal. And then I’m sure hundreds of thousands of people every year from Nepal will come and visit Ayodhya in the future.”
Asked whether Nepal’s President and Prime Minister will attend the Ram Temple’s inauguration, he said, “I think we still have some time. They have to decide, our head of Government, head of the States, but we’ll see what happens in the future.”
In response to a question about whether an invitation has been sent by India to Nepal’s leaders, he said, “So far, I have not seen the embassy, but there could be different channels, multiple channels. I think Government of India probably might have used it. but I have not seen it in the embassy here.”
Highlighting the importance of rocks that were sent by Nepal to India, he said that these rocks were identified in the Kali Gandaki River and were brought to Ayodhya for identification and possible construction of the idol.
“These rocks were identified in Kali Gandaki River, where we get Saligram. That’s the only place where we get Saligram. If you go to any temple in India and most of the temples, you’ll see some Saligrams, actually …, Vrindavan, everywhere you go. And then they will tell us that there are 12,000 saligrams they brought for the temple, 20,000 saligrams and so on and so forth. So, this rock, although this is not exactly the saligram, but rock, was identified in the Kali Gandaki River. So this has been brought to Ayodhya for the identification and possible construction of the idol, the new idols of Bhagwan Ram, Sita, Laxman, whatever it is,” he said.
“So, it’s there, even if they do not make idol out of that because of technological reasons or technical reasons, geological reasons, but I’m sure they will keep it in the courtyard in that area. And that will also have a very important and vital role in strengthening the relationship between Nepal and India, especially at the level of people to people and spiritual relationships,” the Nepal envoy said.
Asked about the specifications of the rocks, Shankar P Sharma said, “I don’t know because that’s done by the geological experts in India. I think, although the preliminary work also was done in Nepal, the detailed work, I think, has been done in India.”
In response to the question on whether he would visit Ayodhya on the inauguration day, he said, “Not decided, but highly likely.” He said that many people from Nepal would visit India that day. However, he added that they need to find out in terms of transportation and their stay.
On devotees from Nepal wanting to visit Ayodhya for the Ram Temple inauguration, Sharma said, “I’m sure a lot of people will visit from Nepal. But, we still don’t know, I think because there will be hundreds of thousands of people visiting that place. So, in terms of transportation, in terms of their stay, in terms of the travel agents, I think we have to find it out. But I’m sure a lot of people will visit from Nepal to Ayodhya on that day.”
Asked about the embassy’s preparations for Ram Temple’s inauguration, he said, “I think from our side in the embassy, if we get the Government invitation, I think it will depend on the Government side. But from the Nepali side, I think we still have to talk with some of the people who run business, especially the buses from Nepal and India, because those people who would like to fly, I think they can fly anytime depending on the availability of the tickets. But we’ll talk about that one with the respective people and relevant people.”
He emphasised that the Ramayan circuit and the Buddhist circuit have already been initiated, developed and implemented to some extent between India and Nepal and added that it will have a “stronger relationship” between the two nations. He said that the people-to-people ties developed by pilgrimage tourism are very strong.
Shankar P Sharma said, “First of all, I think the Ramayan circuit and the Buddhist circuit has already been initiated, developed and implemented to some extent between India and Nepal. So that will definitely have a stronger relationship between the two countries, especially people to people relationship. But what I see even in the earlier times, for the last centuries or whatever it is, I think the people-to-people relation developed by this spiritualism, pilgrimage tourism is very strong.”
“I think that will not diminish. That will even grow stronger in the future. If we talk about, let’s say 30, 40 years ago because of lack of transportation, very few people used to come to India for the religious trips. But now I think you’ll see hundreds of thousands of people come every year to visit these places. And then I will see, and I expect that this will grow in the future exponentially.”
On being asked whether the Ram Temple should have been constructed earlier, he called it India’s internal policy and emphasised that the land of Ayodhya itself is very precious, religious and spiritual. He also recalled his mother’s visit to Ayodhya.
He said, “That’s India’s internal policy. But even if there is no temple, because Ayodhya Bhoomi itself is so precious, so religious, so spiritual. So I think my mother and my family members, they came a long time ago, visited Ayodhya, did Puja there. So I think that itself has a very important and very significant importance.”
The construction of the temple has been progressing at a steady pace under the supervision of the Trust. The idol of Ram Lalla will be in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The foundation stone for the construction of the Ram Temple was laid by PM Modi on August 5, 2020.
The grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya is all set to be inaugurated on January 22 next year. Several dignitaries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, will attend the Ram Temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya.
(with inputs from ANI)