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New Home For Lord Ram: PM Modi Leads Rituals At Grand Ayodhya Temple

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday afternoon completed the 'pran pratishtha', or consecration, of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the building of which is a 50-year-project of the BJP realised three months before the general election.

Here are the top 10 updates on this big story

Live visuals of the consecration showed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat sitting next to the PM. The RSS, or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and visuals of the two next to each other have been seen as acknowledgement that the Ram Temple project is a joint BJP-RSS project.

Shortly before the ceremony Mr Modi said it is a "great pleasure" to be part of a "divine programme" at the Ram Temple. "The supernatural moment of the consecration of Shri Ram Lala's life in Ayodhya Dham is going to leave everyone emotional," he wrote in Hindi.

Earlier today the PM shared an aerial video of Ayodhya, which NDTV was told was shot from the helicopter that ferried him from the town to the temple, which has been festooned with flowers and decorations - a distance of around 18 km.

The consecration will be celebrated across India and Indians abroad will mark the occasion with prayers at their local temples. The occasion has been hailed as a 'Diwali' - referring to the festivities that marked Ram's homecoming after the battle with Ravan.

The list of high-profile invitees includes Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and his South Indian counterpart Rajinikanth, as well as top actors like Katrina Kaif and business tycoons Like Sunil Bharti Mittal and Anil Ambani. India cricket stars, past and present, like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohil, have also been called.

The PM has reportedly been observing a series of rituals, including sleeping on the floor and consuming only coconut water, to prepare for the ceremony, after which will also address the gathering, his office has said. "The historic ceremony will be attended by representatives of all major spiritual and religious sects. People from all walks of life, including representatives of tribal communities, will also attend ..." the statement said.

PM Modi will also interact with labourers building the temple, which has reportedly been made in the Nagara architectural style. Its 392 pillars, and 44 doors and walls have elaborate carvings and the idol of the five-year-old Ram is in the sanctum sanctorum.

The opening of the temple - the heart of a decades-long political storm - has been cold-shouldered by most of the opposition, including the Congress, the Left, the Trinamool, and the Samajwadi Party, all of whom have accused the BJP of gaining political mileage from religion on an election year. The BJP has hit back, censuring all who declined the invite, including the Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge and Sonia Gandhi, as anti-Hindu.

The event has also drawn other controversies - including the one that involves the shankaracharyas of four premier monasteries staying away. The Puri and Joshimath shankaracharyas have criticised the consecration of an incomplete temple and have questioned why Mr Modi will be inside the sanctum sanctorum while the shankaracharyas have been allotted seats outside. The event is being given a political angle, they claimed.

The building of the temple started after the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment in 2019, awarded the disputed land for a temple and asked that Muslims be given an alternate plot for a mosque. The matter, which went to court shortly after Independence, had escalated after hundreds of karsevaks razed a 16th century mosque on the site, believing it was built over a temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram.

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