Diwali Lamps

A new Guinness World Record was set in Ayodhya Nov. 6. on the eve of Diwali as over 300,000 diyas, or earthen lamps, were simultaneously lit and burned for 45 minutes on the banks of the Saryu River. (IANS photo)

AYODHYA — The northern Indian city of Ayodhya broke a Guinness World Record Nov. 6 by lighting 300,150 earthen lamps and keeping them burning for at least 45 minutes on the banks of the river Saryu as part of the annual celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook attended the record-breaking event after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a four-day visit to India.

Her presence was significant because of a Korean legend that a princess from Ayodhya traveled to Korea and married a king, becoming a Korean queen in the year 48 AD.

Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh, was given a certificate certifying the record by Guinness officials who had monitored the attempt with drone cameras.

As dusk fell in Ayodhya, where Hindus believe the god Lord Ram was born and where he returned after 14 years in exile, volunteers lit lamps, called diyas, snaking along the river, through lanes and at houses.

A similar attempt failed to break the record last year, when strong winds blew over many of the lamps. The Nov. 6 feat broke a record from 2016, when 150,009 lamps were lit.

Purnima Shukla, a Saket Degree College student, was among 5,000 volunteers involved in the ceremony.

“Last time we missed it by a whisper but this time we ensured that all the lamps were aglow. Oil was poured frequently, and we used sheets to block wind where it was very windy,” she said.

IANS adds that at the lamp-lighting ceremony, the First Lady of South Korea Kim Jung-sook also witnessed the change of name of a district: Faizabad will now be known as Ayodhya.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the First Lady Kim Jung-sook also performed prayers on the holy river as people clapped and cheered

The Ram ki Paidi, or bathing ghats, were lit up in purple, red and yellow lights and a laser show based on the life of Lord Ram was also displayed for the cheering thousands. 

First Lady Kim Jung-sook earlier laid the foundation stone for the Queen Hau memorial park, which will be jointly built by the Uttar Pradesh and the South Korean governments.

Uttar Pradesh will spend Rs 24.66 crore on the ambitious project, which is aimed at increasing tourism in the temple town and strengthening the cultural bonds between UP and South Korea. 

In his address, Adityanath announced the establishment of a medical college in Ayodhya, which will be named after former King of Ayodhya Dashrath, as well as an airport, which will be named after Lord Ram.

The chief minister said Faizabad’s identity was of was Lord Ram and declared that the Faizabad district would now be known as Ayodhya. 

The first lady of South Korea also welcomed the characters of Lord Ram, Sita, Lakshman as they alighted from a chopper for a special theatrical performance.

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