Quiet flows the Saryu in a calm Ayodhya
The Saryu banks looked far less crowded while the winding streets and bylanes of this ancient temple town wore a deserted look in the morning
Contrary to the common apprehension that the Supreme Court verdict could kick up a storm in many parts of the country, particularly Ground Zero, there was complete lull here in Ayodhya throughout the whole of Saturday.
The Saryu banks looked far less crowded while the winding streets and bylanes of this ancient temple town wore a deserted look in the morning. But just as time went by, more people ventured out and happily walked up to the Saryu banks to take their holy dip right until sunset.
The state government had ordered the closure of educational institutions, but even though the market was to officially remain open, most shopkeepers preferred to keep their shutters down until noon. The afternoon witnessed more activity in the markets, yet there could be no denying that business remained dull for most shopkeepers.
For the earlier part of the day, there was greater visibility of security personnel who patrolled every nook and corner of the twin towns of Ayodhya-Faizabad. During the latter part of the day, even the men in khakhi looked less tense while frisking devotees going to the makeshift Ram temple to which the queues were relatively much shorter than a day earlier when the city was overflowing with crowds.
Ongoing Hindu rituals like ‘panch-kosi’ parikrama and Kartik Purnima festival had drawn large number of pilgrims to the town but no sooner than news broke out about the verdict coming next morning, people started to pack up.
“We were all set to leave like many of our companions early this morning, but some of us thought of taking a quick last dip before departing, when a sadhu advised us not to panic and stay on; we thought of giving it a try and as the day went up, we realized that our fears were uncalled for and we will stick to or earlier program and stay on until the end of Kartik Purnima festival on November 12,” said Shiv Shankar Misra, 70, who came here with his family (mostly women) from Darbhanga in Bihar to spend a full month in Ayodhya.
Raj Nath Singh, caretaker of the Sulabh Shauchalaya at the Saryu banks said, “I got up late today and wondered why people seemed to be leaving Ayodhya while the festival was still on. Then I was told about the judgment. But now it is evening and the day has passed so peacefully as never before whenever there is some big news on Ayodhya.”
For little children supplementing their family’s income by selling flowers and ‘diyas’ to devotees at the Saryu ghats or ‘sindoor’ and bangles, it was poor business. “As against 500 to 600 rupees worth of stuff that I am able to sell every day, I could sell barely 250 rupees items today”, complained 14- year old Suraj, carrying a basket full of flowers and ‘diyas’.
Oblivious of the court verdict, Ashish Soni, 12, who is also in the same business, knew was that the Ram temple would now get built. “I came to know that finally, some order has come for the construction of the Ram temple; I think that will give us more business one day”, he hopes.
Significantly, locals including saffron-clad sadhus who were vehemently opposed to the idea of reconstruction of a new Babri Mosque in Ayodhya were now talking of compassion and peaceful coexistence. “We have always believed in Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb’ (composite culture), so it is good that the Supreme Court has ordered allocation of 5-acres land for he mosque as well”, remarked, Ram Bhushan Saran, a priest at the popular Lakshman Qila monastery here.
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