Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 4
Pro-Hindutva organisations in the US have restricted their plans to celebrate the foundation laying ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya after other Indian-Americans petitioned local mayors and authorities to not allow them to take up billboards including those at the New York’s Times Square.
President of an Indian-American organisation Jagdish Sewhani had last week announced plans to lease prominent billboards in most major US cities that would beam live images of the Bhoomi Poojan at the Ram Temple. He had envisioned it as a community event with poojas and addresses at Times Square scheduled to time with images on the Nasdaq Plus screen that is said to be the largest continuous exterior displays in the world and the highest-resolution exterior LED screen in Times Square.
However, plans for a public celebration at multiple events have not just run into opposition from other Indian-Americans. About half-a-dozen Indian-American bodies have been joined by over a dozen civil society organisations that have opposed public celebrations of the event.
The more eye-catching plan to hire billboards remains uncertain but there will be special poojas in some American Temples, while the faithful have been asked to light diyas at home to celebrate the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led bhoomi poojan of the Ram Temple on Wednesday.
Some enthusiasts plan to hire a tableau truck with a large LED display with digital images of the Ram Temple to go around the area near the political power centres of Washington -- Capitol Hill and the White House. Incidentally, Khalistani separatists had adopted a similar approach during PM Modi’s Houston rally in September last year after failing to rustle up the numbers.
Outlining the opposition to celebration of the event, Dr Manish Madan of Global Indian Progressive Alliance said in a statement that it "inadvertently celebrates violence after decades of communal divide, and tries to legitimise a Hindutva-agenda, a form of religious supremacy which is neither representative of the world’s oldest religion, Hinduism, nor does it represent the sentiments of many Indian Americans who indeed practice Hinduism.’’
"I am of the same faith as the people projecting these images on August 5, and I can tell you this is not my Hinduism, which teaches love and compassion, and the oneness of us all. August 5 is not a holy day for Hindus. Its choice rubs chilli powder into the wounds of Kashmir,’’ said Sunita Vishvanathan of Hindus for Human Rights in a statement at a press conference.
As of now, both sides plan to mobilise their respective sides. "Let the American people take note that those who are organising such a show in multicultural New York hide cynically behind the garb of culture and faith,’’ said Raja Swamy of India Civil Watch. He claimed that at least one major billboard company, Branded Cities, may not run the advertisements.
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