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The Science Behind 'Surya Tilak' Ceremony At Ayodhya's Ram Temple

Ayodhya: At noon, today, the grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya witnessed a unique event as the forehead of the Ram Lalla idol was anointed with a ray of sunlight, known as 'Surya Tilak' on the occasion of Ram Navami. 

Using cutting-edge scientific expertise, a 5.8 centimetre beam of light hit the deity's forehead. To achieve this remarkable phenomenon, a specialised instrument was designed. A team of ten esteemed Indian scientists stationed at the Ram Mandir ensured the success of this auspicious event on Ram Navami. For approximately 3 to 3.5 minutes starting at 12 noon, sunlight was precisely directed onto the statue's forehead using a combination of mirrors and lenses.

Commissioned by the temple trust, scientists from a leading government institution devised a sophisticated apparatus consisting of mirrors and lenses. This mechanism, officially termed the 'Surya Tilak mechanism', marks a significant scientific and engineering feat.

Dr Pradeep Kumar Ramacharla, Scientist and Director at the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, explained to NDTV the intricate workings of the optomechanical system. 

"The opto-mechanical system consists of four mirrors and four lenses fitted inside the tilt mechanism and piping systems. The complete cover with an aperture for the tilt mechanism is placed at the top floor to divert the sun rays through mirrors and lenses to the Garbha Girha," Dr Ramacharla said. 

"The final lens and mirror focus the sun rays on the forehead of Shree Ram facing east. The tilt mechanism is used to adjust the first mirror's tilt, sending the sun rays towards the north direction to the 2nd mirror to make the Surya Tilak on every year's Shree Ram Navami. All the piping and other parts are manufactured using brass material. The mirrors and lenses are of very high quality and durable to sustain a long period. The inner surfaces of pipes, elbows, and enclosures are black powder-coated to avoid scattering of sunlight. Also, at the top aperture, an infrared filter glass is used to restrict the Sun's heat waves from falling on the idol's forehead," he added. 

The development of the 'Surya Tilak' mechanism involved collaboration between scientists from CBRI, Roorkee, and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP), Bengaluru. Employing a special gearbox and using reflective mirrors and lenses, the team orchestrated the precise alignment of sunlight rays from the temple's third floor to the inner sanctum (Garbha Griha) using established principles of solar tracking. Technical support from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and the manufacturing expertise of Optica, a Bengaluru-based company, further helped the project's execution.

Dr Pradeep Chauhan, Scientist at the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, said with confidence that the 'Surya Tilak' would flawlessly anoint the statue of Ram Lalla. Given the fixed date of Ram Navami based on the lunar calendar, intricate arrangements involving 19 gears were implemented to ensure the timely occurrence of this auspicious ritual, all without relying on electricity, batteries, or iron-based components.

India's premier institution in the field of astronomy, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bengaluru, has devised a solution to reconcile the apparent disparity between the lunar and solar (Gregorian) calendars. "We possess the requisite expertise in positional astronomy," elaborated Dr Annapurni Subramaniam, Director of IIA, adding, "This expertise was applied to ensure that the Sun's rays, symbolised by a 'Surya Tilak', could ceremoniously anoint the idol of Ram Lala on every Ram Navmi."

The team from CSIR-CBRI includes Dr SK Panigrahi, Dr RS Bisht, Mr Kanti Solanki, Mr V. Chakradhar, Mr Dinesh, and Mr Sameer. Prof. R. Pradeep Kumar, Director of CSIR-CBRI, mentored the project. From IIA Bangalore, Dr Annapurni S., Director of IIA, Er S Sriram, and Professor Tushar Prabhu are the consultants. Mr Rajinder Kotaria, Managing Director of Optica, and his team, Mr Nagraj, Mr Vivek, and Mr Thava Kumar, are actively involved in the execution and installation process.

A similar 'Surya Tilak' mechanism already exists in some Jain temples and at the Sun Temple at Konark, but they are engineered differently.

Source: NDTV

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