By Binod Prasad Adhikari
Myagdi [Nepal], January 29 (ANI): Nepal has dispatched two Shaligram (non-anthropomorphic representation of Lord Vishnu in Hindu religion) stones to India's Ayodhya for the construction of idols of Ram and Janaki expected to be placed in the main temple complex of the under-construction Ram Mandir.
Found only on the riverbanks of Kali Gandaki River that flows through Myagdi and Mustang district, the Shaligrams are already on their way to Ayodhya via Janakpurto. On arrival, idols of Lord Ram and Sita will be built by Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra.
Nepali Congress leader and former deputy prime minister Bimalendra Nidhi, who hails from Janakpur, the birthplace of Sita, is coordinating with the Janaki temple which is sending the two stones from the Kali Gandaki River where Shaligrams are found in abundance.
"Stones found in the Kaligandki River are well known and very precious in the world. It is widely accepted that these stones are symbols of Lord Vishnu. Lord Ram is the incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu which is why the stone from Kali Gandaki River, if available, would be very good to make Ram Lala's murti (Idol) in Ayodhya for Ram Janma Bhumi Temple. It was requested by Champat Rai- the General Secretary of the Trust (Ram Janma Bhoomi Teertha Kshetra) and I was very much active and interested in this, " Nidhi told ANI.
"I visited Ayodhya along with my colleague Ram Tapeshwar Das- Mahantha(Priest) of Janaki Temple. We had a meeting with the Trust authorities and other saints of Ayodhya. It was decided that upon the availability of the stones from Kali Gandaki River of Nepal, it would be good for them to make the Murti (Idol) of Ram Lala," the former deputy prime minister said.
He said that they have finalized two stones, one weighing 18 tons and another of 16 tons and it has been approved both technically and scientifically for the making of the idol.
Nidhi said that the two shilas are likely to reach Ayodhya on February 1. Stone convoys will travel through Pipraun Girjasthan of Madhubani, Bihar, which holds religious significance, and will make night stops at two places, Muzaffarpur and Gorakhpur before reaching Ayodhya on February 1.
The Nepali leader said Janaki temple would later send a bow to Ram temple in Ayodhya as per the specification of Ram temple trust. He said Ayodhya and Janakpur are places of historic importance and the use of Nepali stones for sculpting Ram and Sita idols and the bow from Nepal would reflect the deep religious and cultural bonds between the two countries.
The Sher Bahadur Deuba government had authorised handing over of the stones to Ayodhya. Legend has it that Sita, also known as Janaki, was the daughter of king Janak of Nepal.
Every year, Janakpur not just celebrates the birth of Lord Ram, but also the wedding anniversary of Ram and Sita.
Nidhi has been coordinating with authorities in India and the Ram Temple Trust in Ayodhya for over two years to take this initiative forward.
In his conversation with former Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri in 2020 in Janakpur, Nidhi proposed sending a bow to Ayodhya. Nidhi said he thought of sending two stones to Ayodhya only after talking to Indian authorities, particularly Champat Rai, general secretary, Ram JanmabhoomiTeerthaKshetra in Ayodhya.
Nidhi said in December 2022, they got clearance from the Nepal government to send the two stones and a bow to Ayodhya. The two shilas will first be brought to Janakpur from the Kali Gandaki River for public viewing before being sent to Ayodhya. Nidhi said they had received permission from the Department of Mines and Geology to send the two stones to Ayodhya.
Chairman of Myagdi's Galeshwor Shivalaya Area development trust, Madhav Prasad Regmi, said: "This is a matter of pride and happiness for us that the Shaligram/ Shila from here is going to India's Ram Temple. It would establish a direct relationship between Galeshwork-Kaligandaki-Janaki-Ayodhya. It is a matter of pride for us."
"As the Shaligram start moving towards Ayodhya, words about the importance of Shaligram/ Shila and Kaligandaki would be known to a large mass of people. This would increase the arrival of Hindus and this place would be known for its religious tourism," Regmi said.
Indira Baruwal, a resident of Myadgi, Nepal said two Shaligrams being dispatched to India "is a matter of pride for all, the whole nation- not only the Myagdi District. The relationship which exists between Nepal and India would further strengthen because of it. We as Nepali should be proud of it, not only the residents of Myagdi."
Another resident Indira Baruwal said: "Kali Gandaki is renowned in the world for the availability of the Shaligram as it is only found here. It itself is a really sacred river but after the installation of Ram Murti (Idol) made from Shaligram found here, the Galeshwor Dhamit will attract not only Nepali but Indian pilgrims."
Resident Deepak Karki said that he is extremely happy about Nepal's Shaligrams being used to build Lord Ram's idol. "It stands as proof of the purity and importance of our river and the place where we are living. The Shaligram which is found in abundance here is making its way to India. This place itself is a pilgrim site and the stones that are found here have more value which has given us immense pleasure that we have been residing in this place," he said,
"Religious tourism of the area would obviously boost," Karki added. (ANI)