On the road that leads from Ayodhya’s Saket University to the Ram Janmabhoomi, a hectic cleaning and beautification activity has been on for the past week. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will touch down at a temporary helipad at Saket University on August 5, before being driven 3 kilometres to the Ram Janmabhoomi where he will lead the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a grand Ram Temple in the town.
Among those involved in painting outer walls of homes that fall along the route the Prime Minister will take are three students of fine arts at Ayodhya’s Saket University.
“We are painting a Sita Swayamvar (paintings that depict the marriage of Lord Ram). We have to make 300 paintings on a 3 km stretch based on the life of Lord Ram. Like us, many other artists are engaged in this,” said Praveen Kumar, a Masters Student at the university.
“Can you send a message to the Prime Minister,” 20-year-old Nitin Prajapati, another artist involved in the painting, chips in.
“The question is whether the study environment at my university will become better or not. That is something all governments should concentrate on. If you give a higher profile to the town, do ensure all aspects are taken care of,” said Nitin.
Five kilometres away, at Ayodhya’s landmark Ram Ki Paidi ghats by the Saryu River, Check Mark, a music band formed by boys from the town is performing for an assortment of media crews who have already arrived in Ayodhya ahead of next Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony.
The band has prepared a brand new song dedicated to Lord Ram and they have no qualms about repeating it multiple times for the media.
“It’s a good opportunity for us too. With a tourist boom, we will get more work too. Currently, we perform mostly in Lucknow but there is a different charm of living and working in your hometown. But one does need more opportunities. Our family members are very accepting that we have chosen music to be a big part of our lives,” said Kushal Batra, the founder of the band.
At the entry gates of Ayodhya, a newly built assortment of pillars – a welcome gate of sorts – is being painted for next week’s ceremony. But Vikki Koli, a private contractor in his late 20s is rushing against time to complete the work. It has been raining for two days. “Sab Ram bhagwan ki maaya hai,” smiled Vikki when asked if he will manage to complete the work on time.