In a shocking event, it has come to light that the mainstream media, including some of the most prominent of the outlets such as The Indian Express, The Hindu, NDTV, National Herald, ABP News and the Outlook had wrongly reported that the UP government spent Rs. 133 crore on the Deepotsav event held in Ayodhya on the occasion of Diwali. It must be noted that as opposed to the widely circulated reports of expenditure of Rs. 133 crore, the Yogi government had sanctioned only Rs. 1.32 crore.
It is relevant to mention here that the press release of the UP government mentioned the amount allocated for the event as Rs. 132.70 lakhs, which roughly translates into Rs. 1.33 crore. The mainstream media outlets, therefore, misreported the budget of the grand event by inflating the amount of expenditure around 100 times.
The grand Diwali celebrations are organised in Ayodhya, ever since it was started by the Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath in the year 2017. That year 1.5 diyas were lit in the Saryu river ghat and the temples of the city. Last year too, three lakh diyas were lit on the Saryu ghat creating a new world record. The Diwali celebrations in Ayodhya were grand and on a never seen before scale. The presence of South Korean First Lady Kim-Jung Sook further added to the charm and enormity of the event held at the banks of Sarayu.
This year the Deepotsav has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. UP government’s Director of Information Shishir said, “Last year’s record was of three lakh one thousand one hundred eighty-six ‘diyaas’ at the ghat. This time, it was four lakh 10 thousand ‘diyaas’ lit at the ghat. This was announced by Guinness World Records representative and is a new record. Apart from this, more than two lakh ‘diyaas’ were lit elsewhere than the ghat. In all, more than six lakh ‘diyaas’ were lit.”
While the misleading reports of the UP government spending Rs. 133 crore on the grand event led to unnecessary outrage, the fact remains that the Deepotsav event at Ayodhya is gradually becoming an integral part of Ayodhya’s cultural legacy. Last year, the South Korean First Lady Kim-Jung Sook had attended the event and this year, the presence of the Deputy Speaker of the Republic of Fiji, Veena Bhatnagar, has made it clear that the event has the potential of showcasing the rich culture of India in general and Ayodhya in particular. Uttar Pradesh CM, Yogi Adityanath said, “Of the seven pious cities, three of them — Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura — are in our UP. No one in the country or in the entire world possesses such prosperous and cultural environment. We all feel proud of the tradition of Ram. The name of Ayodhya itself brings the idea of ‘Ram Rajya’ in our minds.” It is thus clear that finally, the state Uttar Pradesh has a government that is celebrating its cultural legacy, not only at a domestic level but also at a global level.
The Deepotsav which has been declared as a state event by the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government does not only help in celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the state, but also comes as a major boost to the local economy of the state. The event binds one and all in the wave of oneness. By declaring Deepotsav as a state event, the UP government is ensuring that the event boosts tourism to the ancient city in an unprecedented manner. And then the procurement of diyas, oil and other logistics in preparation of the grand event also clearly adds to the local economy of the town. With the presence of foreign dignitaries at the event in two consecutive years, it has also become clear that the event has the potential of attracting tourists from around the world. Moreover, the fact that the event has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records is bound to further fascinate tourists across the globe. And if all this can be made possible at the cost of Rs. 1.33 crore, then the benefits of the event indeed far exceed its costs.