As devotees entered Ayodhya’s Hanumangarhi temple on Thursday, a day after PM Narendra Modi laid the foundation of a Ram temple at a site nearby, a constable could be seen keeping tabs on them to ensure that they follow social distancing norms. People were seen taking a dip in the Saryu river while some excited youngsters took selfies as the city woke up to a cloudy and windy morning. Some devotees at the Saryu’s Naya ghat were seen offering prayers to an idol of Lord Hanuman.
Shops too opened in the vicinity of Hanumangarhi after the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ram temple on Wednesday with traders hoping that its construction will be benefit their business. Forty-seven-year-old Shriram, a constable in the Provincial Armed Constabulary, says the number of devotees seemed more on Thursday.
They might have waiting for the August 5 event to get over and then offer prayers at the temple, the constable who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur says. Shriram mans a picket near the Hanuman temple for eight hours a day and he says they stand guard on a rotational basis. He has three sons and a daughter and says they visit him whenever they come to Ayodhya. Meanwhile, the life seemed to return to its normal routine.
Most shops selling prasad in the vicinity of the Hanumangarhi temple were open. Shopkeepers were seen asking devotees to buy prasad from them. Amit Kumar, who sells the items used in worshipping, says he opened his shop after five days. “Saturday and Sunday were the weekend lockdown while we kept our shops closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” he says hoping for a brisk business.
Other shopkeepers in the area were of the view that the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya will benefit them.
Rakesh Modanwal, who sells framed photographs of various Hindu deities, said, “Devotees coming for the past 10 days are demanding the photo of Ram Lalla Virajmaan. At this point of time, it is the most sought after photo among the customers.”
Cloth merchant Ravi Chandra Gupta, who has a shop in the bylane leading to the Ramjanmabhoomi, says, “Once the Ram temple is built, we hope that it will benefit us. Sweetmeat shop owner Rakesh Kumar too says the construction of the Ram temple will have a “positive impact” on the shops around the Hanumangarhi temple.
Another sweets shop owner, Arvind Kumar, says, “We are running the shop for the past three to four generations. The construction of a grand Ram temple will definitely help us to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.”