After priests of Ayodhya said Prime Minister Narendra Modi may lay the foundation stone for the construction of the Ram Temple on August 5, sources told News18 that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is also likely to attend the ceremony.
Invitations have also been sent to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Nitish Kumar is among other chief ministers on the list. In all, around 300 people are likely to be sent an invitation.
Priests in Ayodhya have prepared an elaborate plan for the ceremony with three-day Vedic rituals at the Ram Janmabhoomi site, beginning on August 3. This will be followed by Ramacharya 'puja' on August 4 and the 'bhumi pujan' on August 5, which will be held around 12:15pm.
This will be Modi's first visit to Ayodhya and the Ram temple area. The prime minister had announced the formation of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust on February 5.
Five silver bricks will also be set inside the sanctum sanctorum during the 'bhoomi pujan' ceremony. The first will be laid by PM Modi. The five bricks are believed to symbolise the five planets as per the Hindu mythology. The design and the architecture of the temple is the same as the one proposed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) — the design will follow Vishnu temple's Nagara style while the 'garbha griha' will be octagonal.
However, as compared to the earlier model, the length, breadth and height have been increased. Additionally, there will be five domes instead of the three that were previously envisioned. The total area of the temple will be between 76,000 to 84,000 square ft. Earlier, it was estimated to be around 38,000 square ft.
A decision to extend an invitation to Maharashtra Cheif Minister Uddhav Thackeray was taken given Shiv Sena's three-decade-long association with the Ram Temple movement. Notably, Uddhav's father Balasaheb Thackeray was named in the demolition case, but his name was removed after his death.
In March this year, Thackeray visited Ayodhya and announced an aid of Rs 1 crore for the construction of Ram Temple while stressing that his party, the Shiv Sena, is committed to Hindutva even though it has broken ties with the BJP.