Ayodhya Ram Mandir Opening Ceremony: The Guest List, Exclusions, and Planned Absences Unveiled

January 22 declared as public holiday in Maharashtra

January 22 declared as public holiday in Maharashtra

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Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, a row has erupted over the guest list for the inauguration ceremony of the Ram Temple scheduled to be held on January 22 next year in Ayodhya which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, other ministers and dignitaries.

Invitations have been sent to religious leaders, actors, and many politicians for the January 22 event in Ayodhya. However, it’s not yet clear who will attend from the opposition parties.

Opposition leaders have voiced their disappointment, expressing frustration over not receiving invitations to the significant event. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar expressed his disappointment after not being invited to the Ram Mandir inauguration ceremony. Pawar told news agency that, “Don’t know if it (BJP) is using the issue for political or commercial purposes. We are happy that the temple is coming up for which many have contributed”. Further responding to queries about an invitation, Pawar indicated he had not been invited, adding, “My visits to places of worship remain private affairs”. 

Similarly, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor also stated that he has not been invited to the Ayodhya Ram temple inauguration event on January 22. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Tharoor said, “Was interrogated by the waiting press, wanting to know if I would be going to Ayodhya. I told them I hadn’t been invited but I saw religion as a personal attribute and not one for political (mis)use.” “Temples are not the government’s business; unemployment, inflation, public welfare, and national security are. But the media allows the temple to turn the focus away from those issues!” the Congress MP added. 

CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat also underlined her party’s decision to skip the January 22 event, calling it the ‘politicization of a religious program’. “No, we will not go. We respect the religious beliefs… but they are connecting a religious program with politics. Using religion as a political weapon or to advance a political agenda is not right,” Karat told news agency. 

Additionally, veteran leader Kapil Sibal also said he didn’t feel the need to attend the ceremony because he has ‘Lord Ram in my heart’. “What I say to you is from my heart… because I do not care about these things. If Ram is in my heart, and Ram has guided me on my journey, it means I have done something right,” Sibal told news agency. 

Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust has sent invitations to Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for the Ram Temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya, said sources. However, they added that senior Congress leaders are unlikely to attend the ceremony.

Apart from them, Former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda have also received the invitation. The invitations, as per the sources, were delivered by a delegation of those associated with the Trust. More invitations are likely to be sent to other opposition leaders in the coming days. 

BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are unlikely to attend next month’s consecration ceremony. Apart from politicians, the ceremony will see Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli as guests. Amitabh Bachchan, Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani are also among the invitees. The list also includes actors Arun Govil and Dipika Chikhlia. They are famed for their portrayal of Ram and Sita in the legendary TV series Ramayan. The trust has extended its reach with 3,000 VVIPs, including RSS Head Mohan Bhagwat, Baba Ramdev and Ratan Tata.

Distinguished guests will include judges, scientists, writers, poets, saints, priests, Shankaracharyas, religious leaders, former civil servants, retired Army officers, lawyers, musicians and recipients of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards. About 4,000 saints from different sects have been invited to participate in the ceremony.

The inauguration of the Ram temple, scheduled for January 22, is anticipated to witness the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and over 6,000 attendees for the consecration ceremony of the Ram Lalla idol.