Ayodhya : Close on the heels of renaming Allahabad as Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Tuesday announced that Faizabad district would henceforth be known as Ayodhya.
“Ayodhya is a symbol of our ‘aan, baan aur shaan’ (honour, pride and prestige),” he said at a grand “Deepotsav” event organised in the pilgrim town, about 120 km from state capital Lucknow.
“We have come here to assure you that nobody can do injustice to Ayodhya, no force in the world can do that,” Adityanath said, adding that the holy city was identified with Lord Ram.
He also announced the setting up of a new airport in Ayodhya named after Lord Ram and a medical college in the name of king Dashrath, father of Lord Ram, in the district.
“Deepotsav is about starting a new tradition,” Adityanath said at the Ram Katha Park here on the eve of Diwali. The event was also attended by the First Lady of South Korea, Kim Jung-sook, and Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik.
Several projects, including those related to the redevelopment and beautification of the “Ram ki Paidi” and the stoppage of sewage disposal in the Sarayu river, were launched at the event.
“We have come to work for Ayodhya and a South Korean delegation has also come here to connect with its past. Ayodhya’s identity will remain with Ayodhya and this Korean delegation is a witness to that. I want to announce today that this district will now be known as Ayodhya as well,” the chief minister sad.
A section of the crowd was also heard shouting “Mandir ka nirman karao” (build a temple).
In his address, Adityanath also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and described the projects undertaken by the latter as akin to a “Ram Rajya”.
Ayodhya is known around the world for Lord Ram and the festival of Diwali is celebrated due to the legend of him returning home from “vanvas” (exile).
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had started the Janakpur to Ayodhya bus service and therefore, to take the Ayodhya-Nepal relationship forward, I will go to Janakpur with seers,” Adityanath said.
“We have kept our memories alive, so that no one can disturb our memories. We have our traditions which we want to take forward. Everybody is seeing what Ayodhya wants and we have come here to see what Ayodhya wants,” he added.
Later, on the banks of the Sarayu river, a new world record was set with over three lakh “diya” (earthen lamps) lit up simultaneously, officials said.
“A total of 3,01,152 earthen lamps were lit up simultaneously for a period of five minutes, which is a new record,” Rishi Nath, official adjudicator of the Guinness World Records, said in the presence of Adityanath and Kim.
Earlier in the day, after arriving in Ayodhya from Lucknow in a special chopper, Kim began her tour by offering tributes at the Queen Heo Memorial.
Accompanied by Adityanath, she attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the upgrade and beautification of the memorial dedicated to the legendary princess of Ayodhya who went to Korea and married a king there in 48 AD.
From there, Kim went to the Deepotsav festivities, where she was greeted by artists donning the avatar of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita, who arrived at the Ram Katha Park in a ceremonial chopper as part of the “Ram Durbar”.
Kim garlanded “Sita” as they got off the helicopter and Naik and Adityanath welcomed “Lord Ram” and “Laxman”.
The event at the Ram Katha Park was also attended by Naik, Bihar Governor Lalji Tandon, Union minister V K Singh, South Korean envoy to India Shin Bongkil and the Korean delegation.
Kim, in her address, recalled the historic ties between India and Korea and said she prayed for both countries as they moved towards a future of peace and prosperity together.
“Darkness cannot defeat light and if we all light lamps together, we can remove any darkness,” she said in Korean.
Kim also wished people on the occasion of Diwali and later, attended another function at the Ram ki Paidi, where she also performed a ceremonial “aarti” alongside Adityanath on the ghats, before being treated to a dazzling display of over three lakh “diya” and a sound-and-light show.
Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (RJN) president Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and several other religious leaders were present on the dais.
Union minister Singh said, “Ayodhya is moving towards gaining its grandeur and I hope that every citizen here feels that Ayodhya’s glory be regained…The Ayodhya, whose past was so glorious, shall again become glorious the same way and become soon.”
Naik underlined the recognition of the Kumbh Mela as an intangible heritage and that of Yoga globally and hoped that Ayodhya would be famed the world over in a similar manner.
Kim’s standalone visit to India, which began on November 4, has rekindled the interest in the legendary princess Heo, who married a Korean king.
According to Korean legend, the princess of Ayodhya went to Korea in 48 AD and married king Kim-Suro.
A large number of Koreans trace their ancestry to this legendary princess, who is known as queen Heo Hwang-ok.