Today (28 October), a Sri Lankan envoy arrived at the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya carrying shila (holy stone) from Ashoka Vatika, the place where Maa Sita was held captive by Ravana.
The Sri Lankan envoy, including Sri Lanka’s Ambassador, Deputy Ambassador and two ministers, dedicated the shila of Ashoka Vatika to Shri Ram and also performed aarti at the Ram Janmabhoomi mandir.
During the visit, Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust's General Secretary Champat Rai, and trustees, including Dr Anil Mishra and Raja Vimalendra Mohan Pratap Mishra had welcomed the envoy.
Sri Lankan Ambassador was also briefed on the construction work of Ram mandir by Trust's General Secretary Champat Rai.
The Dharmic Significance of the Ashoka Vatika
As per the Hindu epic Ramayana, during Shri Ram's exile in the forests, Ravana abducted Maa Sita from Panchavati and held her captive in a cave located in Ashoka Vatika in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, the place where Maa SIta was held captive is known as Sita Eliya, which is a beautiful garden decorated with lakhs of Ashoka trees. The Ashoka Vatika has a unique temple, namely the Seetha Amman Temple, dedicated to Maa Sita. The temple has the idols of Shri Ram, Maa Sita and Lakshman.
The Sita river, which served Maa Sita during her prison days, flows through the Ashoka Vatika. About a century ago, some idols were found from the river indicating that the place was worshipped in the ancient past.
Along the river stream, there are circular depressions in the rocks, which are believed to be the footprints of Shri Hanuman who entered and destroyed the Ashoka Vatika to rescue Maa Sita from the clutches of Ravana.
Ashoka Vatika or Sita Eliya is a sacred site and attracts devotees and tourists from across the world.
A Pillar of Strength for Sri Lanka-India Ties
It is for the first time that an official delegation, including the ambassadors, of the Government of Sri Lanka visited Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya.
The announcement for devoting a stone from Sita Eliya (Ashoka Vatika) for the construction of Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple was made by the Indian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka through a tweet, earlier this year. It said:
“A stone from Sita Eliya in Sri Lanka for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya will be a pillar of strength for India-Sri Lanka ties. This stone was received at the Mayurapathi Amman Temple by HC-designate of Sri Lanka to India HE Mr. Milinda Moragoda in presence of the High Commissioner.”
While the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Theertha Kshetra Trust is yet to disclose where the stones will be used, the Trust's General Secretary Rai said, “these stones will represent the sentiment of the Sri Lankan society,” and hence are of great socio-religious significance.
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