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“Saw saints moved to tears”: Sole Kiwi-Indian in Ayodhya

Guna Magesan at the new Ram temple in Ayodhya, India. (Supplied photo)

Guna Magesan, President of Hindu Council of New Zealand and the sole invitee from New Zealand to Ayodhya, found himself at the centre of history as he witnessed the grand inauguration of the Ram Temple on January 22, 2024.

The event marked the culmination of a nearly 500-year civilisational struggle as the city embraced a transformation that transcended religious boundaries and resonated with cultural significance.

Sharing his experience of attending the historical event, Magesan said, “The Pran Pratishtha (a sacred ritual which involves the consecration of a deity and the infusion of life force into the temple's divine entity) ceremony was not just a religious ritual; it was an emotional rollercoaster, touching the hearts of everyone present. I saw saints, sannyasins, and even politicians moved to tears – perhaps expressing their joy and a sense of accomplishment.”

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As the sole representative from New Zealand, Magesan says he was “honoured” to witness a pivotal moment in Bharat's history and the culmination of a struggle that had endured for centuries. "I had to pinch myself to ensure this was real. It felt like a significant moment, signalling the correction of a historic injustice."

As we delved into the significance of the Shri Ram Temple, Magesan's excitement bubbled over. "The construction and consecration hold immense significance, not just for Bharat but for Hindus worldwide. It's a realisation of a long-standing dream that has been a beacon of hope for generations."

On Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 'Virasat Bhi, Vikas Bhi' vision for Ayodhya, Magesan said, "Ayodhya is poised for a makeover. It's not just about a temple; it's a citywide facelift - a new airport, railway station, hotels, and restaurants. 

“The integration of cultural heritage with contemporary development endeavours promises manifold advantages for the Ayodhya region, Uttar Pradesh state, and the entire nation. 

“Ayodhya's unique strategy is not just about spirituality; it's a beacon for sustainable and culturally-rich urban development. The city is set to become a global model, marrying the past with the present in a harmonious symphony."

Speaking on re-establishing 'Ram Rajya’, Magesan commended the Modi government's strides. "The Ramayana is not a myth or mythology; it is an ‘itihas’, a recorded history. It's not just about governance; it's a commitment to social harmony. Modi's leadership has reduced corruption, positively impacted citizens, and fostered unity. The vision of 'Ram Rajya' goes beyond governance; it represents an ideal state of justice, righteousness, and moral values."

Magesan's tale took a detour to the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, adding a dash of patriotism to the narrative. "The 75th Republic Day was exceptional. Women power took centrestage - 100 women playing traditional instruments, an all-women tri-service contingent, and a fly-past featuring 15 women pilots. It was a celebration of progress, diversity, and the strength of 'Nari Shakti'."

On a closing note, we turned to the future of India-New Zealand relations. Magesan said,  "Diplomacy, economic ties, cultural exchanges - the potential is enormous. But it depends on fostering understanding. Let's debunk biased narratives and half-truths. Building a bridge of mutual respect and understanding will be key in fortifying the relations between Aotearoa New Zealand and Bharat."

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