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Indian PM Modi inaugurates controversial Hindu temple in Ayodhya

Indian PM Modi inaugurates controversial Hindu temple in Ayodhya Hindu temple in Ayodhya (Getty Images)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted a special ceremony today to consecrate a grand temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram. The temple's site in Ayodhya was historically disputed between Hindus and minority Muslims, even provoking nationwide riots, Reuters and CNN report.

This temple, Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir, is believed to have been built on the site considered to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, making it a significant event for the majority Hindu population in the world's most populous nation.

The event is seen as a symbol of Hindu resurgence after centuries of perceived subjugation by Muslim and colonial powers.

It is also considered a crucial element in Modi's bid for a rare third term in the upcoming general elections scheduled for May. Modi shared his excitement on X, describing the ceremony as a "supernatural moment" that would leave everyone emotional. He participated in Hindu religious rituals, including chanting verses, placing flower petals at the deity's feet, and circling a sacred flame.

Indian PM Modi inaugurates controversial Hindu temple in AyodhyaIndian PM Modi inaugurates controversial Hindu temple in Ayodhya (Getty Images)

"After centuries of unprecedented patience, countless sacrifices, renunciations, and penances, our Lord Ram has arrived,” Modi said in a speech. “Ram is not a dispute, Ram is the solution."

Yogi Adityanath, the leader of Uttar Pradesh state where Ayodhya is located, called the Ram Mandir India's "national temple" and a part of a cultural revival.

The ceremony featured traditional music and rituals for the deity, represented by a 51-inch tall black stone. Politicians, businessmen, sports, and media figures attended, along with millions of people nationwide. Thousands of people, dressed in national clothes, celebrated in the streets, waving saffron flags and chanting religious slogans.

The event has provoked religious fervor across India. States declared a holiday, stock markets closed, and homes and businesses were illuminated.

Many Hindus express pride in the completion of the temple, fulfilling a 35-year-old promise by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, the temple's construction has been a contentious political issue, contributing to the BJP's rise to power.

Controversial temple

The temple's site was the cause of a historical clash between Hindus and minority Muslims, leading to nationwide riots in 1992. The Supreme Court resolved the issue in 2019, granting the land to Hindus and allocating a separate plot for Muslims to build a new mosque, which is yet to begin construction.

Ayodhya has nearly 3 million people, including roughly 500,000 Muslims.

Tight security was put at the ceremony, with over 10,000 police personnel guarding the city of Ayodhya. The temple opens to the public on Tuesday, and it is expected to attract 100,000 visitors daily in the coming months.