For decades, Hindus and Muslims fought over the Ayodhya claim. Ayodhya is the ancient city, birthplace of Rama no less. Its beauty, by the banks of the Sarayu River, was made timeless in the poet Valmiki's Ramayana. My retelling of this story can be found here.
After decades of bloodshed, over sixty years, a court decision has decided on the matter. The decision is welcome - if only to end bitter and deadly clashes if not for its justice.
Said to be the most ancient of Hindu cities, Ayodhya was the capital of the legendary Kingdom of Kosala. My retelling based on Valmiki's Ramayana tells the story of King Dasaratha, King of Ayodhya who longed for a son. A son, Rama was born to Queen Kausalya followed by three other sons. After many trial, tribulations and terror fighting the evil Ravana, Rama returned to Ayodhya in triumph. This story and legend is regaled throughout Asia in many forms. Incidently, the wayang kulit tulen Kelantan is based on this epic as well with many improvisation.
Now, back to Ayodhya's real history.
After thousand of years practising Hindu, in the 16th century, there was a wave of Muslim conquerors and Mughal rule in Ayodhya. Babur, the first Mughal emperor of India built the Babri mosque in 1527. For over two hundred years, debate over its existance on an ancient Hindu temple site as discussed here was cause for fierce fighting. In the 1800s, the courts however generally gave in to the status quo that the mosque shall be respected and kept safe.
In 1992, the Babri Mosque was razed to the ground by Hindu extremist. A monument of India's history erased - but not its significance. If at all, it set aflame century old disputes and after the ashes settled, its ambers slowly fumed bigotry in its place.
Some might wonder why I am interested in this debacle and the resulting outcome. Well, I constantly read and research world legends. When a legendary epic like this, albeit a very religiously revered epic, becomes the basis of modern day news, I am piqued by how much it would influence the courts.
It is also a story of clashing beliefs and respect.
Hopefully, a story of reconciliation - if possible.