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Amit Shah to launch Ramayana Festival

NEW DELHI: Even as the hearing of Ramjanmabhoomi case is going on at the Supreme Court, the BJP government has intensified its promotion of Ramayanato enhance its socio-political stance on the international stage.

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations that comes under the Ministry for External Affairs will organise the fifth International Ramayana Festival here between September 17-19. While Home Minister Amit Shah will inaugurate himself the festival, in which groups from eight countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will participate, the international groups will also travel to Ayodhya. The festival will also be held in Lucknow between September 20-22 and in Pune on September 21.

Asked if they will also visit the Ram temple at the disputed site of the temple in Ayodhya, ICCR president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe told reporters on Friday, that it was "natural" that will happen.

However, there will be no performance in the town.

Sahasrabudhe said the Ramayana festivals are being organised with a lot of pride now as the "present government is not apologetic about its cultural symbols."

"Earlier there might have been ideological opposition in the previous government. Lord Ram is seen as the symbol of righteousness and celebrated in many countries. We take a lot of pride in that."

Groups from Trinidad & Tobago, Mauritius and Fiji will also participate in the festival. The first festival in 2015 was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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