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Why hurry when money is good
- Ram temple work loses sense of urgency

Ayodhya, Dec. 3: Luv Kush Mandir — a temple dedicated to Ram’s twin sons, which stands not far from where the Babri Masjid stood 10 years ago — is getting a facelift. So is Dasrath Mahal, the temple in memory of Ram’s father.

What of the Ram mandir' At the Karsevakpuram workshop where the base and 212 pillars of the proposed temple are being prefabricated, Annu Bhai Sompura, overseeing the work, chastises the artisans: “Jaldi nahin hai, par kam safai se karo (There is no hurry, but do the work well).”

“I don’t know,” says Sompura, with no particular emotion in his voice, responding to a question if he has any idea when the temple would come up.

“That is for the higher-ups to decide,” echoes Ram Nath, an artisan from Rajasthan. For him, as for his 100-odd colleagues working at Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Nirman Karyashala, the longer the job lasts, the better.

“I don’t mind if it takes time because I am paid by Sompura Marble Industries on a daily-wage basis,” he says.

Two 16.5-foot-high pillars, with images of deities carved on them, have been used to create an arch placed near the entrance to the workshop at Ramghat Chauraha, 2 km from where the Babri Masjid stood. These are to be used in the proposed temple.

Most of the artisans are here because of the money they earn and not because they share their paymasters’ enthusiasm for the cause. But there are exceptions.

“No one can stop construction of the temple at the Babri Masjid site,” says Hanuman Singh, a sculptor from Mirzapur.

Artisans from Bihar, Rajasthan as well as Mirzapur and Agra in Uttar Pradesh quietly work on sandstone blocks scattered across the plot. A stone-cutting machine shapes the blocks into required sizes.

“We have almost finished work on the pillars and 180 of the 212 pillars in the proposed two-storey temple are ready to be transplanted anytime,” says Sompura, on a round of the workshop.

The proposed temple will have three types of pillars. One set of 72 for the ground floor will be 16.5-foot high, while another set of 72 for the first floor will be 14.5-foot high. The third set of 68 pillars, with heights ranging from 3.63 ft to 12.9 ft, will be used on both floors.

Nagendra Upadhyay, VHP activist and district leader, admits there is no sense of urgency and it will take at least five more years for the work to be completed. “But things could change if the VHP’s Margdarshak Mandal wants,” he hastens to add.

While questions like when the temple construction will start and who will undertake it remain unanswered, frantic building activity is going on elsewhere. Already dotted with innumerable temples and ashrams, many more are sprouting at rapid pace.

“Acres and acres of land have been purchased by every important math anywhere in the country, be it north or south,” says Mahant Vidyasagar, head priest of Lakshman Quila temple.

Not only are new temples being constructed, the old ones are also getting a fresh look. Apart from Luv Kush Mandir and Dasrath Mahal, believed to have been the residence of Ram’s father, Konark Bhavan, Raj Gaddi and Char Dham have got a facelift.

But construction of the Ram temple has evoked little interest among Ayodhya’s mahants, some of who even question the claim that Ram was born at the site of the demolished mosque.

Mahant Gyan Das of Hanumangarhi insists Ram was not born there. Others claim he was born at Ram Janamsthan Mandir, one of the thousands of neglected temples here.

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