And even closer to the new Ram Mandir, it sounds thrice a day inside the small temporary shrine for Ram Lalla set up in 2020, approached through a winding barred corridor after multiple security checks, after the aartis of morning, afternoon and evening to which only 30 people are admitted by a very democratic first-come-first-served system. When after several attempts I manage to land an aarti pass, several family members send me WhatsApp messages of congratulation.
Under the grey winter skies of January, then, Ayodhya -- already steeped in the language and lore of Ram -- awaits its tryst with destiny. Will the city be able to bear the weight of aspirations suddenly invested in it? After all, almost overnight the actual residents of Ayodhya are fated to become a minority in their own city. Millions of Indians and NRIs, not to mention the ruling party and most of the mass media, are avid to transform themselves into Ayodhyavasis, as perhaps they were not to become the self-ruling, difference-cherishing people of a republic, reminded by Gandhi (always such a pressuring soul, and especially towards Hindus) that real ramrajya begins within oneself, that it requires great introspection and the abjuring of violence.
Hindu again, epic again.