Bhajan renditions, temple replicas mark news TV coverage of Ayodhya event2 min read . Updated: 05 Aug 2020, 05:53 PM IST
- The foundation stone-laying ceremony in Ayodhya was attended by 175 dignitaries and 135 religious leaders
- Last November, the SC cleared the way for the construction of the temple with its verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute
Blow-by-blow account of Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on Wednesday saw Indian television channels at their innovative best. From constructing makeshift sets in their own studios to bursting into religious songs, the small screen had it all.
Zee News editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary announced on Twitter that to ensure grand coverage of the huge event, the channel had constructed a set within their studio, even as live updates tracked everything from the fact that nobody in Ayodhya had slept the previous night and the rain showers before the ceremony signalled the advent of good times and ‘Ram Rajya’ which translates into rule of Ram. The channel also brought in singers and instrumentalists to sing Ram bhajans to keep things going in the run-up to the main event.
In response to comments on Twitter regarding the model of the temple replicated in its studio, Zee News’ Editor (Digital) Abhishek Mehrotra immediately put out a blogpost in Hindi roughly translated as: “Lord Ram is neither a source of news for us at Zee News nor do we bring religion and faith into the blind race for TRPs. We are proud to be the followers of Lord Ram."
Meanwhile, English news channel Times Now spoke to the priest who fixed the ‘mahurat’ or date for this ceremony with anchor Navika Kumar calling it “an elusive dream coming true for 130 crore Indians who were fortunate to witness the event in (our) lifetime." Kumar, along with BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, who was part of a panel to discuss the historic ‘Mandir moment’ also sang the Shri Ramachandra Stuti by Goswami Tulsidas.
With tickers like ‘Grand Abode of Lord Ram,’ India Today focused on the advantages of washing hands before a puja, which according to the anchor, helps in granting strength to arms, eyes, nose and so on.
Netizens and senior journalists were vocal about what the TV coverage signalled.
“By simply giving the event a platform for live telecast across channels (and across the country) TV news amplified a display of majoritarian religious triumphalism not seen since Independence. What sort of coverage they did beyond that is less relevant," said Sevanti Ninan, media commentator and founder editor of The Hoot.
Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai also tweeted on the event. “Remember for the great Mahatma Gandhi, Ram Rajya was an article of personal faith that spoke of a world of justice, harmony and compassion; today, even faith becomes a TV event in an age of political marketing! The values of Ram are bigger than any idol" he said.
The foundation stone-laying ceremony in Ayodhya was attended by 175 dignitaries and 135 religious leaders, Mint reported earlier. Last November, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the construction of the temple with its verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharti tweeted that Doordarshan’s live coverage of the Ram temple Bhoomi Puja was carried by around 200 channels, as per initial estimates.
“While we have to wait for detailed TV viewership data, we have seen tremendous digital traffic for today's live coverage comparable to DD's typical digital performance during other coverages of national significance such as Independence Day and Republic Day," Vempati said. DD National’s YouTube channel garnered more than 10 million watch minutes.