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IGNCA’s Ayodhya fest rekindles push for development of 150 holy sites

A three-day festival aimed to showcase the “culture of Ayodhya”, from the town in Uttar Pradesh which many believe is the birthplace of Ram, is being held in Delhi.

Ayodhya Parv, being hosted by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), will also be used to underline the need to build a pilgrimage around the 150 holy sites in the town, organisers said.

The Shri Ayodhya Nyaas Pragya Kishkinda Mission is organising the festival. A live kitchen called “Sita rasoi”, which will have Awadhi food, and cultural programmes will be a part of Ayodhya Parv.

Videos, text and photographs from the 108 of these 150 sites will also be displayed at the festival.

The festival will have in attendance Ram Temple Trust chairperson Nritya Gopal Das, IGNCA chairperson Ram Bahadur Rai, Union minister Smriti Irani, RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale and IGNCA member secretary Satchidanand Joshi, among others.

The festival comes close on the heels of the formation of Ram Janmabhoomi trust that will oversee the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

The Supreme Court last year ordered the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. Now, some of those demanding the temple want the government to explore a larger pilgrimage site around Ayodhya.

IGNCA chairperson Ram Bahadur Rai said while speaking to media the intent is to create a “cultural awareness” about Greater Ayodhya.

“The objective is to let people know about the culture of Ayodhya, and the 150 ancient sites which find mention in religious scriptures like the Vedas, Puranas and Ramayana. Yogic sites like Bharatkund have found mention in these scriptures,” said Rai.

Teams have been conducting research on these sites, said Rai, and a book “Aaho Ayodhya” will be released describing the culture.

Ayodhya lawmaker Lallu Singh, one of the organisers, said these sites are spread across five districts—Ayodhya, Barabanki, Gonda, Basti, and Ambedkarnagar—and span an area of over 275 kilometres.

“The government should build facilities for tourists to do a parikrama (circumambulation) around these sites. There is an existing 14 kosi parikrama ( a pilgrimage of 14 sites), but we need to build a chaurasi parikrama (a pilgrimage of 84 sites),” said Singh.

The chaurasi parikrama is a pilgrimage followed by followers of an austere form of the Hinduism, who hope to attain deliverance from rebirth.

In 2015, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari had announced that the route of the pilgrimage will be converted in a four-lane highway and Rs 1056.41 crore will be set aside for a waterway along the Sarayu river.

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