VHP’s men-only baraat from Ayodhya to Nepal

Lucknow: A day after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board confirmed that it would seek a review of the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya case, indicating that there was no closure of the case just yet, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad rolled out its grand plan to take out deity Ram’s ‘baraat’ (marriage procession) from Ayodhya to Janakpur (Nepal) with much fanfare.

The ‘baraat’ with two decorated ‘raths’ (along with youths dressed up as Ram, Bharat and Laxman), two dozen cars and a bus, will set out on November 21 in Ayodhya, believed to be deity Ram’s home, and reach Janakpur on November 28, believed to be the hometown of his wife Sita.

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Only male participants will get a chance to participate in this procession, as was customary in ancient times. Over 200 men, including seers, will be the ‘baraatis’.

Few more men will join on the way as the ‘baraat’ meanders through Ghazipur, Bastar, Chhapra, Patna and Sitamarhi, after halting at a few places, VHP office-bearers said.

“Yes, only men will be part of the ‘baraat’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath are also invited to attend the marriage in Janakpur on December 1,” Sharad Sharma, VHP spokesperson, told the Free Press Journal. The royal family of Nepal are among the invitees.

The event is being organised under the banner of the Dharmyatra Mahasangh, an outfit set up by the VHP for organising religious trips in 2002. Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one of its patrons in those days.

The ‘baraat’ will stay at Sita’s hometown for three days, a custom which prevailed among north Indian Hindus till a few decades ago. Lodges and hotels for over 400 guests have already been booked in Nepal, VHP leaders claim. 

As per the itinerary, Tilakotsav would be held on November 29 at the Dashrath Temple of Janakpur. ‘Kanya pujan’ is slated for November 30, followed by ‘Ramlila’, ‘Dhanush Yagya’ and ‘Jaimala’ on December 1.

‘Kalewa’ is on December 2 morning after which the ‘baraat’ will proceed on its return journey via Gorakhpur and is expected to reach Ayodhya on December 3, Sharma says.

The first ‘baraat’ was taken out in 2004. Sharma says, “PM Modi was invited for the 2014 event, too, though he didn’t attend then. Hopefully, he will attend this time.”