How I got invited to Ayodhya Ram Mandir Inauguration?

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One day in October I got a phone call to ask if I would go to Ayodhya if invited. Not yet aware of the importance of the event having such an impact I casually said why not. At that time I honestly did not realise how and why I was among the 'chosen few!'
Next sequence of events happened only in Dec and Jan when many people took charge of all arrangements and even came home to deliver a beautiful card personally with the auspicious rice grains. All this raised my excitement but at the same time the news channels played spoilsport by politicising the whole event leaving me feeling a bit hesitant and confused having been a woman in uniform of the most secular armed forces.
The day arrived and apprehensions melted with the excitement of being in person for a historical event.

Landing at the beautiful airport and being welcomed with a Chandan Tilak set the tone of what was in store. A number of Ex Chiefs of the three services were invited and the Dogra Regimental Centre opened its doors and heart to all Ex Armed Forces invitees. The warmth of an LO at the airport and reception by officers in the mess was in true spirit of the highest ethos we maintain and it felt so natural and homely to be back in an officers mess. 
The first evening was spent driving around the newly resuscitated city of Ayodhya. Every house wore a festive look. Tons of flowers and lights festooned wide new roads. A new city had come alive and peeping old buildings and houses were seen behind a festive facade. The excitement was palpable as a sea of people walked on the roads with devotional songs being played on loudspeakers and intermittent cheer with Jai Shree Ram echoing from streets.
 The ghats were spruced up and new construction could be seen in bits and pieces all around. The sand sculptures were amazing and so were the performances going on along the bank and the city. There was no jostling nor any raised voices.

People were moving along enjoying themselves as if in a world of their own. Selfies and pictures were being clicked all around. Marigold flowers and big silhouettes of Lord Ram were everywhere and balloons and archways festooned the roads. Inspite of hundreds of cars and thousands of people on roads surprisingly there were no impatient horns or heated arguments. People just moved along in peace and harmony. In the evening the DRC hosted a welcome dinner for all the Veterans with warmth and the hospitality extended by the gracious lady wives. Meeting so many Ex Chiefs was an honour and a pleasure.

22Jan dawned and I started by wishing Nikhil as it was his birthday and I thought it auspicious to pray for him at the Ram Mandir. After a good cup of coffee all the Ex Chiefs some with their lady wives, a couple other General officers and yours truly were escorted to the Mandir by a police pilot and our motorcade convoy of almost 20 cars! On reaching the temple finally I was awestruck with sheer magnificence of the beautiful piece of architecture that loomed large ahead. Couldn't believe it was created in two years! "My heart lept up when I beheld the mandir in the sky!"  can try to describe my feelings. Devotional songs were heard by leading singers giving a live performance. There was an ocean of people all around but no jostling or pushing. White chairs in blocks which were pre allotted helped people find place to sit. Volunteers immediately served water and snack boxes. People were glued to the screen showing who's who arriving or were clicking photographs while waiting for Hon'ble PM to arrive.
Dot on time the PM was seen walking purposefully and stately holding gifts for Ramlalla with his usual confidence and dignity.

The final phase was trying to get Darshan. This was easier said than done. The systematic handling of crowds and the disciplined people ended here and then started the mass movement of the ocean of people vying to get in. Joining one such stream I got pushed forward and my height did not help me much in getting to see where so was heading!!! Finally we were inside and the intricate temple carving was awe inspiring. The statue soon came in sight and peace on the child's face of Ramlalla was infectious. The crowd did not permit me to stand and pray peacefully so I stepped out and sat on the steps of a huge gold plated door. There was me praying for my family friends and my university. I thanked HIM for making me part of this celebration and wanted nothing more. There was a sense of great peace and contentment

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