28-yr-long! A teacher’s ‘Vrat’ and a bachelor’s pledge for Ram Temple

Bhopal Aug 4 (IANS) Amid hundreds of stories of faith in Lord Ram, those of Urmila Chaturvedi of Jabalpur and Ravindra Gupta of Bhopal stand out simply because of the steely resolve shown by the two for the past 28 years.
Urmila Chaturvedi, a former Sanskrit teacher, has been on a non-cereal diet for the past 28 years, defying the wishes of her family members. And she is not done with her task yet. She wishes to visit Ayodhya for the ‘bhumi pujan’ ceremony for the grand Ram temple construction on Wednesday.
However, it is not clear if her wish would be fulfilled as her travel plans to Ayodhya have not been cleared yet. She needs a Covid negative certificate as the first requisite. Her family claims that she has been invited, and she plans to go to Ayodhya on Wednesday and break her fast after taking a dip in the Sarayu river after the ‘bhumi pujan’ ceremony. Her family members also want to accompany Chaturvedi to Ayodhya, said a report.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who is admitted to a hospital in Bhopal for the past 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19 twice, tweeted, “Lord Ram never disappoints his devotees, whether she is Shabari of Ram era or Urmila of the current times! Blessed is your reverence! The whole Bharatvarsh (country) salutes you! Jai Siyaram.”
Though Chaturvedi’s son Vivek is worried, she has no intention of giving up on her resolve. She believes that pledges taken with dedication do get fulfilled.
Chaturvedi recalls that she was distressed by the violence that erupted after the disputed structure was demolished in Ayodhya and vowed that she would have proper food only after the construction of the Ram temple with the consent of all stakeholders. Since December 6, 1992, she has been surviving on fruits and spends most of her time reciting Ramayana and chanting prayers.
She had first insisted that she would want to visit Ayodhya on the completion of the Ram temple. Now her family says she would break her fast after the foundation stone is laid for the temple on Wednesday. The announcement has brought cheer to the family.
She expects to be among the 175 invitees for Wednesday’s ceremony in Ayodhya. Every invitee will be given a silver coin as ‘prasad’, along with a box of ‘laddoos’ and a photograph of Ram Darbar.
Ravindra Gupta was 22 when he left his home in Bhopal’s Lakherapura for “kar sewa” for the Ram temple after the Vishva Hindu Parishad gave a call to carry ‘Ram Shilas’ or bricks for the building of the temple in December 1992.
Gupta, an RSS activist, had vowed not to marry till the Ram temple came up in Ayodhya. He had gone to Ayodhya much against the wishes of his family members. When he announced his decision to remain a bachelor till the Ram temple was built, his family was quite agitated but he stuck to his decision.
Now at 50, he has turned an ascetic and has completed Narmada Parikrama four times. He may never marry even when the temple is completed, but he feels the satisfaction of dedicating the better part of his life for a better cause. He became a full-time pracharak of RSS in 2004 and is likely to make a formal announcement about taking ‘Sanyas’ soon. Gupta is not among the invitees to Wednesday’s ceremony in Ayodhya.

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