Ayodhya Deepotsav 2019: On Diwali this year, the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government will celebrate deepotsav or the festival of lamps in Ayodhya, where over 5.50 lakh earthen lamps or diyas will be lit on Saturday, >26 October. Preparations are already in full swing in the state, where the government has made elaborate plans for the five day-long festival of lights, which marks the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.
Artists have also started to gather in the city for the deepotsav procession, a symbolic descent of Lord Rama and Seeta, as a part of festivities.
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Spokesman of the state government said: "Between 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday in Ayodhya, tableau procession of Lord Rama will be organised. This procession will start from Saket College and end at Ram Katha park in which artists from various countries will take part. The chief minister will overview the procession between 3.45 pm and 4 pm"
Ayodhya Member of Legislative Assembly and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ved Prakash Gupta said that the occasion is a good opportunity to boost tourism in the district.
"Over Rs 130 crore has been allocated by the government for the preparations this time. The vision behind Deepotsav is not just spiritual, but also boosting tourism in the area" Gupta said.
The Deepotsav Mela was granted the status of State fair by the government. With this change in status, deepotsav will now be planned by the District Magistrate of Ayodhya instead of the Tourism Department, The Hindu reported.
Along with Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi among others will attend the 'Deepotsav' event. The list for foreign dignitaries will also be announced.
Earlier on 15 October, Chief Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh government, RK Tiwari spoke about the preparations being made in Ayodhya for the auspicious occasion.
"Administrative officials have taken stock of all the places where celebrations are to take place. On Deepotsav, more than 5.5 lakhs earthen lamps will be lit in Ayodhya. This will be historic as it will involve huge public participation," Tiwari said.
Tiwari added that of the 5.50 lakh lamps, around 4 lakh will be lit at Ram Paidi, while the rest will be lit at other religious locations in the city.
The state Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary Avnish Awasthi and Director General of Police OP Singh had last week visited the city to take stock of the ongoing preparations.
Apart from meeting saints at Tulsi Smarak, the officials had also visited Ram Paidi and Ram Katha Park to assess security preparedness.
In 2018, Ayodhya broke a Guinness World Record by lighting more than three lakh earthen lamps and keeping them lit for at least 45 minutes on the banks of river Saryu as part of the annual celebration of Diwali.
Ever since taking charge of the chief ministerial post in 2017, Adityanath has increased the scale of Deepotsav and has presided over the celebrations each time. In 2018, South Korea's first lady Kim Jung-Sook was invited as the chief guest.
Previous celebrations under the BJP state government have featured the illumination of various temples and monuments, street lighting, Shobha Yatras of various overseas Ramlila performances, a maha aarti at the ghats of Saryu, light-and-sound fireworks show on the river and lighting of thousands of earthen lamps.
This year, the stage at the amphitheatre-style Ram Katha Park will imitate the "courtroom of a grand palace" where the rajya abhishek (coronation) of the symbolic Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman will be done, followed by their aarti by the chief minister and Ramlila performances, reported The Economic Times.
Other than this, a 'Ram Darbar' will be erected at the Ram Ki Paidi ghat, where diyas will be lit and the event.
Meanwhile, restrictions under Section 144 have been imposed on Ayodhya until 10 December in anticipation of the Supreme Court's verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute case.
With inputs from ANI