August 26, 2015

Mauritius model for Ram museum in Ayodhya

The Telegraph

Mauritius model for Ram museum

New Delhi, Aug. 25: When it comes to building a museum to Ram, look no further than, well, Mauritius.
The Narendra Modi government has picked a Ramayan cultural centre in the Indian Ocean island as an inspirational model for the Ram museum it plans to build in Ayodhya.
The government is now preparing to commission a project report for the proposed museum, possibly in an area adjoining the disputed temple-mosque site.

"The Ramayana Centre in Mauritius is unique, not just in terms of its design and structure, but for what it represents - a great learning complex based on the teachings, art and culture related to the Ramayan," Union tourism and culture minister Mahesh Sharma told The Telegraph.
"We want to make a grander version of that centre in Ayodhya," said Sharma, who has just returned from a trip to Mauritius after taking part in an international conference on the epic.
The Ayodhya dispute is over a site that Hindus regard as the birthplace of Ram and the location of the now-demolished Babri mosque. In 1994, the Supreme Court had ordered "status quo" at the site, meaning no construction by either community till a final order that is still awaited.
Sharma had earlier said the court had imposed status quo only on a 110ft-by-95ft plot, so around 70 acres around it, acquired by the Centre in 1993, could be used for other constructions. "Ayodhya is the epicentre of faith for devotees of Lord Ram, so we want to make a state-of-the-art structure there that serves as a centre for art, culture and spiritual learning," he said.
The construction of the Ramayana Centre at Rose-Belle village in Mauritius had begun in 2001, after it was approved by an act of that country's parliament. It was designed by Indian architect-painter Satish Gujral.
Divided into learning and spiritual complexes, the centre has a library, classrooms, spiritual halls and collections of various versions of the Ramayan. A senior official in the culture ministry said Sharma had returned from Mauritius with "many ideas".
"A team of experts will be sent to Mauritius to prepare a report on elements that can be borrowed for the museum in Ayodhya," the official said. Apart from mural depictions from the Ramayan, the plan includes sound-and-light shows on the epic.
But the proposal has already stirred discomfort among sections of minority activists. "The Supreme Court is monitoring the case and I hope they step in and urge the Centre to scrap the plan as any religious construction, whether in the vicinity of the disputed site or in the town, will only raise tensions," said Maulana Mahmood Ahmad Khan Daryabadi, general secretary of the All India Ulama Council.
"Also, when there is a status quo on any construction near the site, the government should keep away from this issue completely."
Scholar Shaista Ambar said he saw a larger political game. "The Ayodhya dispute is a sleeping lion, why awaken it?"