Modi releases book of stamps on Lord Rama

Says appeal of Rama, Sita, Ramayana goes beyond boundaries

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday released commemorative postage stamps on the Ram temple in Ayodhya and a book of stamps issued on Lord Ram around the world ahead of the consecration ceremony scheduled for January 22. Also, the Central government, in view of the "overwhelming" public sentiments, issued an order for all Central government offices across the country to remain closed for half a day on Monday, in view of the "pran pratishtha" ceremony that will be performed by Mr Modi.

While releasing the commemorative postage stamps and the book, the Prime Minister said that they were not merely pieces of paper but a medium to pass on historical events to future generations. Mr Modi said the appeal of Ram, Sita and Ramayana goes beyond the boundaries of time, society, caste, religion and region and connects with everyone.

In a video message, the Prime Minister said the stamps are the smallest form of history books, artefacts and historical sites and serve as a miniature form of epics and great ideas.

Officials said the components of the design include the Ram temple, the chaupai -- Mangal bhavan amangal hari, sun, Saryu river and sculptures in and around the temple.

Quoting Valmiki, the author of the Ramayan, the Prime Minister said the epic and Lord Ram's personality will live on among people as long as there are mountains and rivers on earth.

Ramayan gives the message of the victory of love and teaches people sacrifice, unity and bravery in the most difficult of times while connecting humanity, he said, adding that is why the epic has been a centre of global attraction and is looked at with respect everywhere.

The six stamps released by him are on the Ram temple, Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman, Jatayu, Kevatraj and Ma Shabri, officials said.

The stamp book is an attempt to showcase the international appeal of Lord Ram and the 48-page book covers stamps issued by more than 20 countries, including the US, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Cambodia and organisations like the UN.

Mr Modi said the stamps and the book will help the youths learn a lot and be infused with the spirit of devotion to Lord Ram.

"They also offer a glimpse into the temple's architecture and into the philosophy of panchtatva as well," he said.

While noting that many countries have issued postage stamps on Lord Ram, the Prime Minister said he has been an equally great icon for many outside India and has made a deep impact on different civilisations.

In the book, a gold leaf of sun rays and chaupai lends a majestic icon to this miniature sheet, officials noted, adding that the five physical elements, sky, air, fire, earth and water, are reflected through various design elements and establish their perfect harmony, which is essential for all manifestations.

In a statement on Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office said that Mr Modi will visit several significant temples in Tamil Nadu on January 20 and 21. The visit to various temples by the Prime Minister comes ahead of the Ram temple conservation ceremony on January 22.

On January 20, the Prime Minister will participate in a programme at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Tiruchirappalli in the morning. Thereafter, he will reach Rameswaram at around 2 pm and perform darshan and pooja in Sri Arulmigu Ramanathaswamy Temple.

Announcing a half-day closure of all Central government offices, the ministry of personnel’s order stated, "The Ram Lalla pran pratishtha at Ayodhya will be celebrated on January 22 across India. To enable employees to participate in the celebrations, it has been decided that all Central government offices, Central institutions and Central industrial establishments throughout India will be closed till 2.30 pm on January 22.”

Speaking to the media, Union minister of state for personnel Jitendra Singh said that the decision was taken in view of the "overwhelming" public sentiments.

"There was a huge public demand across the country regarding this. The decision on the half-day closure of Central government offices on January 22 has been taken in view of overwhelming public sentiments," he said.

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