Artistes dressed as Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita welcome Yogi Adityanath in Ayodhya.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is spending Diwali eve in Ayodhya amid a buzz about a big announcement on the proposed Ram statue in the town. The grand programme at Ayodhya, which will be marked with the lighting of a record 3 lakh lamps, comes amid growing demand for fast tracking the building of a Ram Temple at the disputed Ram Janambhoomi site.
For the grand finale of the three day celebration, the Chief Minister is accompanied by South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-Sook.
The Chief Minister, who was given a traditional welcome by artistes dressed as Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita, will address the gathering, during which he is expected to make the announcement.
The plan to build the statue was announced by the state government last year, but there has been no forward movement on it. There is speculation that the statue may be as tall as the one of Sardar Patel in Gujarat, recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With the Sardar Patel statue costing a whopping Rs. 2500-plus crore, the Ram statue is expected to be partially crowd-funded. The land for the statue will be acquired by the Uttar Pradesh government, sources said.
The BJP has called upon the people to light a diya in the name of the Ram temple. The party has started a new hashtag "Jalao ek diya Ram Mandir ke naam ka" on social media.
The South Korean First lady — who is on a four-day visit to India – is expected to participate in the Diwali festivities. Her visit, Yogi Adityanath said, will take ties with Korea to a new height.
"Ties between Korea and India go back a long way in history. We all know that nearly 2000 years ago, the princess of Ayodhya had married the prince of Korea," he said.