By Arré Bench Jul. 31, 2020
On August 5, the date of the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, New York’s Times Square will bear a model of the temple. The words “Jai Shri Ram” will also be smattered across screens, along with Lord Ram’s portraits. The billboards have been leased by the American India Public Affairs Committee.
A controversy is raging around the “bhoomi pujan” ceremony of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, where several policemen and a priest have turned out to be Covid-19-positive. The ceremony is due to be attended by senior politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and LK Advani. However, there is some reason to cheer for Ram Mandir enthusiasts. On August 5, the date of the groundbreaking ceremony, New York’s Times Square will bear a model of the temple.
Members of the American India Public Affairs Committee has leased prominent bill boards to celebrate the ceremony. The president of the committee, Jagdish Sewhani, said that “the giant Nasdaq screen and the 17,000-square-foot wrap-around LED display screen are being leased for the occasion.”
The words “Jai Shri Ram” will also be smattered across screens, along with Lord Ram’s portraits and 3D portraits of the temple’s design. The billboards will also include images of PM Modi laying the foundation stone, believed to be a silver brick.
In Ayodhya, the programme which will reportedly be attended by 200 people, will apparently “resemble Diwali celebrations”, and a group of 11 priests will be performing the rituals. Sewhani reportedly told the PTI: “This is an event that comes once in the life of mankind. We had to give it a befitting celebration and what better place than the iconic Times Square to commemorate the ‘Ram Janma Bhoomi shilanyas.”
Earlier this month, the American India Public Affairs Committee held demonstrations at Times Square, calling for the boycott of Chinese products, where they chanted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
Predictably, the news was met with a lot of “nationalist” chest-thumping on social media, proclaiming this a great day for Hindus everywhere.
New York’s Times Square to display 3D portraits of the grand Ram Temple and Lord Shri Ram on August 5.
This is such a historic moment for us, Hindus. Jai Shri Ram 🚩
— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) July 30, 2020
However, some users reminded people that the construction of the Ram temple was inextricably linked to the destruction of the Babri Masjid.
This is a violent assertion of Hindu nationalism in the Diaspora and aims to recreate a spectacle of hate, violence, of the destruction of the Babri Masjid.
This is playing out as Muslim leaders & students in India are being arrested for AntiCAA protests.https://t.co/MB5bDafjmD
— Suchitra Vijayan (@suchitrav) July 30, 2020
Some enthusiastic Twitter users went a step ahead and used Photoshop to their advantage to show us how the image of Lord Ram might look like on Times Square.
Ram Lalla at New York’s Iconic Times Square. 😍
Prabhu Sri Ram belongs to the Universe. The Universe belongs to Him ❤🙏 pic.twitter.com/OvzRdhssu7
— Karthi Thondamuthur 🇮🇳 (@karthiabvp) July 30, 2020
Author and mythologist Devdutt Pattnaik had a completely different take on the subject, believing that the image would inspire Americans to get a new outfit for Halloween this year.
Hindutva = we will display Lord Ram’s images in Times Square on August 5
American = Oooo… that’s a great idea for Halloween costume. https://t.co/2EgI7LvxHa
— Devdutt Pattanaik (@devduttmyth) July 30, 2020