Ayodhya in Eden Park set to become a historic event on Sunday

The largest Hindu gathering to pray and celebrate a millennial occurrence

Venkat Raman
Auckland, January 19, 2024

About 8000 people, mostly Hindus, will commemorate the ‘Return of Lord Ram,’ an Incarnation of Lord Vishnu in Auckland on Sunday, January 21, 2024.

Called, ‘Ayodhya at Eden Park,’ the five-hour event, scheduled to be held from 1 pm at Eden Park in Auckland, will include Havan, rendition of Rama Kirtans and other hymns in praise of Lord Ram (or Rama), a cultural programme and competitions for children.

India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Neeta Bhushan and Ethnic Communities Minister Melissa Lee will be the Guests of Honour.

The Consecration Ceremony in Ayodhya

The Indian Diaspora in general and Hindus, in particular, will be marking the official inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh on Monday, January 22, 2024. The Temple, being constructed in stages, was the site of the original abode of Lord Ram according to the epic Ramayan. The original Temple was destroyed during the reign of Mughal Emperor Babar and a Mosque (Babar Masjid) was built in its place in 1528-1529.

The Mosque was brought down during a riot in 1992.

Thereafter, a court battle ensued and finally the Supreme Court of India issued its verdict on September 30, 2020, following which the construction of the Temple began.

In a way, the construction of the Temple marked the end of ‘yet another exile’ of Lord Ram, this time after almost 500 years.

Earlier, the Return of Lord Ram was celebrated throughout Ayodhya as a festival. Some Hindus celebrate it as Diwali.

Lord Ram returned home after a 14-year exile ordained by His father King Dasaratha and a bloody battle against the Lankan King Ravana to rescue His kidnapped wife Goddess Sita.

Ramayan is recommended as an Epic to understand the duties of children towards their parents, that of a King to his people, and of the communities to each other. A descendent of the Raghuvamsa (and Suryavamsa), Lord Rama is worshipped not only as an Avatar of Lord Vishnu reincarnated to vanquish evil but also to represent righteousness and everything that is good in the Universe.

Lord Ram is worshipped as the Maryada Purshottam (Esteemed Supreme Being).

Uttering or writing the words Jai Shri Ram (or Sri Rama Jayam) is stated to accrue eternal bliss and protect the vulnerable against odds and evil deeds.

The Auckland Event

The Auckland event is being organised by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Pran Pratishtha Mahotsav Committee New Zealand, comprising members of the Hindu community in Auckland. ‘Pran Pratishtha’ is the Hindu term for the consecration of the Main Deity in a Temple. The Eden Park programme will not therefore comprise Pran Pratishtha but will commemorate in advance the event occurring in Ayodhya the following day.

An Organising Committee, comprising scores of people, with varied responsibilities including Finance, Programme, Competitions, Food, Volunteers and Media has been working almost round-the-clock for the past five weeks to make this unheard-of event possible in Auckland.

It is a collective work of people and involves our Hindu community, with the support of at least four Gurdwaras in Auckland and other communities in one way or another. Among the main persons involved in the event are Vinod Kumar, Manish Tanna, Shivani Arora and Dinesh Bahuja.

Community and commercial organisations and individuals have donated towards the cost of the programme and contributions are still welcome.

Remittances can be made at www.shriramreturns.org

Given the intensively hot and humid weather, the Food Committee has ensured an abundant supply of drinking water. All visitors will have access to free tea and snacks from 11 am to 2.30 pm, while the Mahaprasad, prepared in accordance with Hindu customs, will be distributed after 3.30 pm.

Competitions for children

As a part of the Ceremony, the Organising Committee will conduct two competitions. These include a Presentation Competition for young people aged between 16-25 and an Essay Competition for those between 12-16 years.

Participants in the Presentation Competition will be required to submit up to 20 slides on ‘To be a Kiwi Indian Hindu,’ ‘Hinduism Worldwide- the Reawakening’ and ‘Humanity needs Sanatan Dharma.’

Entries to the Essay Competition are required to submit an essay (maximum 300 words) on ‘Why is Culture Important?’ or ‘Sanatan Dharma down the Millennia.’

Winners will be presented with prizes and certificates at a special ceremony following the conclusion of the religious segment.

Organisers’ Appeal

Parking facilities are limited at Eden Park and hence devotees are requested to use public transport facilities including trains and buses to reach the venue.

Following are the statements from the members of the Organising Committee:

Vinod Kumar: “I am happy that we decided to get Ayodhya at Eden Park. It has brought together more than 300 volunteers, Temples and organisations. There are already more than 5000 people officially registered.”

Manish Tanna: “The efforts of all devotees, Temples, Gurudwaras and other organisations involved with the Ram Janmabhoomi celebrations are coming to fruition. The event at Eden Park Stadium will bring the community closer to our cultural roots. There are activities for children and youth. Let us honour and practice our Sanatan culture while contributing to New Zealand society.”

Shivani Arora: “We are grateful to all the Temples, Gurdwaras, organisations and individuals for their generous contributions. We are well-geared to cater to an estimated 8000 men, women and children who are expected to attend the special event being organised by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Pran Pratishtha Mahotsav Committee New Zealand on January 21, 2024. We are fortunate to be involved with ‘Ayodhya in Eden Park’ as our religious, social and cultural offering to Maryada Purshottam Shri Ram. On behalf of the Organising Committee, I invite all devotees of Lord Ram to attend the event and take the Mahaprasad being offered after the religious ceremony.”

Dhansukh Lal:

We are very proud and excited to bring Ayodhya to Eden Park which will include Havan, Yagna and a huge lineup of cultural performances followed by Mahaprasad for everyone. This is the second Diwali for our Hindu Community with Lord Rama returning to Ayodhya after 500 years.

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