On August 5, 2020, we witnessed the Bhumi Pujan, or ground breaking ceremony of the Ram Mandir, when the entire nation rejoiced in the culmination of a 500 year old struggle. The whole of Ayodhya was in celebration, but it was a particularly emotional moment for Ayodhya’s Suryavanshi Kshatriya community, who were in tears. For them, it was a very personal victory as they defended to preserve the sanctity of the Ram Janmbhumi and Ayodhya first hand at the hands of Mughals. Thakur Gajsingh was the main spearheading the campaign against the Mughals. The people of the Suryavanshi Community also hosted the “karsevaks” in turbulent times of 1990s, even washing their feet and giving them refuge at home.
This community which resides on both sides of the Saryu River consider themselves as descendants of Shri Ram. They refer to Ram as “Raja Ram”. Their forefathers took a vow 500 years ago to not wear their turbans after facing defeat from the Mughal armies, and losing control over the Ram temple. They decided they would not wear their turbans until they win back the Ram-Janmbhoomi and its dignity. Instead, they started using the “Gamcha” or the “Mauri” which kept the head bare. Not just the turbans, the clan also gave up the use of the traditional “Chhatri” (umbrella) and “Khadau”(wooden slippers).
The defeat had a huge impact on the morale of these people, their spirits were crushed and they were full of remorse. The soul-wrenching experience only hardened their vows to restore the rightful place for Ram Lalla. Things changed after the historic Supreme Court verdict in 2019 bringing with it a new dawn. The turban was coming back although with hesitation, ladoos were being distributed. There was still a sense of fear, however, of the return of the past. Some of them want to make sure the temple construction is completed, so that they can truly celebrate the end of their 500-year-old struggle and proudly wear their turbans back again.