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Ayodhya Verdict: A Tailor-made Tale of Devotion Ahead of Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid Ruling

Regular people can’t get their clothes stitched at the tiny shop of Babu Lal Tailors; it only caters to ascetics, and gods.

Qazi Faraz Ahmad | News18@qazifarazahmad

Updated:November 9, 2019, 9:41 AM IST
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Ayodhya Verdict: A Tailor-made Tale of Devotion Ahead of Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid Ruling
Regular people can’t get their clothes stitched at the tiny shop of Babu Lal Tailors; it only caters to ascetics, and gods.

Lucknow: The noise of an old-style treadle sewing machine fills up the small eight-by-six-feet shop in Badi Kutiya locality of Ayodhya. At first glance, Babu Lal Tailors may seem like an ordinary dressmaker. But there is something very special about this shop. Regular people can’t get their clothes stitched here – it only caters to ascetics, and gods.

Ram Lalla and other deities that reside in the temples of Ayodhya get their dresses made at this shop. Though Babu Lal is no more, his sons, Bhagwat Prasad Pahadi and Shankar Lal Srivastava, are carrying forward his legacy. Hermits and seers can be seen lined up at the tailoring shop every morning as soon as it opens. Both Shankar and elder brother Bhagwat consider this “the blessing of Lord Ram” as they earn a living by stitching clothes exclusively for the deities and holy men in the small room which is decorated with pictures and posters of gods and goddesses.

The fourth in their generation in the tailoring business, the brothers remember how their father Babu Lal used to take the sewing machine to the Ramjanmabhoomi premises to stitch the clothes of Ram Lalla. Interestingly, the exact measurements of Ram Lalla are purportedly only known to this family, which has been decking up the deity for decades now.

“Our father passed away in 1994, after which we brothers have been stitching the clothes for Ram Lalla. Earlier when my father was alive, he used to take this sewing machine to the Ramjanmabhoomi and stitch the clothes then and there. However, now the clothes for Ram Lalla are stitched here at our shop, and then taken there,” says Shankar, who proudly displays the bright red clothes with golden spots and lining that he is putting together for the deity.

“If a grand temple of Lord Ram is constructed at the (disputed) site we might get an opportunity once again to sit at the temple and stitch clothes for him,” adds Shankar.

What about the tension ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute? “Tension is a state of mind,” says Shankar. “So much police force has been deployed for security. There is absolutely no ill-feeling among the residents of Ayodhya. I don’t know why people who come from outside think there is tension.”

The Ayodhya dispute is over 2.77 acres of land in the Uttar Pradesh town, which many Hindus believe was the birthplace of Lord Ram. A 16th century mosque, said to have been built by Mughal Emperor Babur that stood at the spot was, torn down in December 1992 by right-wing activists, triggering communal riots. On September 30, 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the disputed land be split into three parts: the site of the Ram Lalla idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman (the installed infant Ram deity), Nirmohi Akhara to get Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, and the Sunni Wakf Board to get the rest. All three parties then appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court. The SC is set to pronounce its decision by November 17, the retirement day of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who is heading the bench that concluded hearing the matter on October 16.

The claims made by the brothers are confirmed by the chief priest of Ramjanmabhoomi, Mahant Satyendra Das. “Babu Lal tailor is no more; during his lifetime he had stitched clothes for Ram Lalla,” he says. “He was doing the job even before I came here. After his passing, his two sons Bhagwat Prasad and Shankar Lal are running his shop, Babu Lal Tailors. I have been here for the last 26 years and they are the ones who have been doing the job.”

Sometime back, a name ‘Babu Khan’ had emerged as the official tailor for Ram Lalla. How did the brothers feel about that? “We are only bothered about our work, and we know that we are the ones doing the actual job,” says Bhagwat. However, when we spoke to Pujari ji about the matter, he said we should let it be as the story was showcased to promote communal harmony. So we have no regrets or any ill- feeling towards anyone.”

Minutes later, Bhagwat is busy stitching saffron-coloured clothes for a hermit waiting at the shop. “We just stitch clothes for ‘Thakur ji’ and sadhus,” he says. “It is all kripa (grace) of Thakur ji. A man may wake up with an empty stomach in Ayodhya, but he never goes to bed with an empty stomach.”

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