A first: Yogi to welcome Ram Shobha Yatra in Ayodhya on Diwali eve | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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A first: Yogi to welcome Ram Shobha Yatra in Ayodhya on Diwali eve

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath will be in Ayodhya on the Diwali eve on October 18 to welcome the Ram Shobha Yatra as his government intends to use the occasion to market the Hindutva hotspot as a major tourist destination.

lucknow Updated: Oct 07, 2017 12:46 IST
Pawan Dixit 
Adityanath will address a gathering and welcome the yatra at the Ram Katha Park in the evening.
Adityanath will address a gathering and welcome the yatra at the Ram Katha Park in the evening.(HT Photo)

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath will be in Ayodhya on the Diwali eve on October 18 to welcome the Ram Shobha Yatra as his government intends to use the occasion to market the Hindutva hotspot as a major tourist destination.

“For the first time in Ayodhya’s history, Diwali festivities will begin in the chief minister’s presence,” Ved Prakash Gupta, the BJP MLA from Ayodhya, told HT.

Mahant Nritya Gopal Das of Mani Ram Das Chavni Peeth is likely to lead the yatra, being taken out for the first time around Diwali in Ayodhya. Hundreds of saffron-clad saints will participate. The whole of Ayodhya will be decked up for the occasion.

“Preparations are going on a war footing to make the event a grand affair,” Gupta said.

State cabinet ministers will accompany the chief minister. Governor Ram Naik is also likely to be present.

A 30-minute laser show on Ram’s journey from Ayodhya to Lanka will be the highlight. It will be shown at the Saryu ghat, also known as Naya ghat, in the chief minister’s presence.

The riverbank will glow with 51,000 earthen lamps. Most of the 10,000-odd temples of Ayodhya will be adorned too.

Adityanath will address a gathering and welcome the yatra at the Ram Katha Park in the evening.

Ram Leela will also be organised at the Ram Katha Park the same day, added Gupta.

Gupta was in Lucknow on October 4 for a meeting with tourism minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi and principal secretary (tourism) Awanish Awasthi to inform them about the preparations.

The entire state government machinery, especially the tourism department, is working to make the festival memorable for Ayodhya residents.

The celebrations will begin with a heritage walk at 7am on ‘Chhoti Diwali’ (Diwali eve). People from all walks of life will participate in it. After the two-hour walk, local BJP MP Lallu Singh, party MLAs and district administration officials will distribute Diwali gifts to 108 under privileged people.

But the disputed site will be left untouched during the celebrations.

After a change of guard, Ayodhya the temple town is being put on the tourism map by both the state and central governments.

This will be Adityanath’s third visit to Ayodhya after becoming the chief minister.

He became the first UP CM to visit the temple town in 15 years on May 31 and was greeted with chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ at Hanuman Garhi, the famous temple of Hanuman.

He paid also obeisance to the Ram Lalla (infant Ram) at the disputed site that day.

He visited the town for the second time on July 26 for Nritya Gopal Das’s 79th birthday celebrations.

The chief minister has already announced a Rs 350-crore development package for Ayodhya, including round the clock power supply.

Some schemes of this package are also part of the Modi government’s various projects for the temple town.