NEW DELHI: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is all set to affirm that Sita’s birthplace is at Punaura Dham in Sitamarhi district by kicking off the reconstruction of a grand temple complex at the site where only a small temple exists at present.

A ceremony will be held on April 24 to launch the reconstruction work, BJP vice-president Prabhat Jha has written in an invitation letter to all legislators cutting across party lines.

Along with Rambhadracharya, chief priest and Ramayana story teller, Jha has been spearheading the campaign to build a grand Sita temple in Punaura Dham, asserting that she had “come out of earth at this place”.

Like her husband Lord Ram, Sita’s birthplace too is disputed. It is believed to be either in Janakpur in Nepal or in Sitakund in Sitamarhi district. The BJP has long been swearing it will get a grand Ram temple built at a disputed site in Ayodhya.

“Nitish Kumar will announce the grand reconstruction work of Punaura Dham on April 24, while taking part in the annual Janaki festival beginning April 17,” Jha and Lok Sabha MP from Sitamarhi Ram Kumar Sharma, who belongs to the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, have said in their joint invitation letter.

Nitish is taking part in the temple reconstruction event at a time when communal tension was reported on Ram Navami from various parts of Bihar last month.Bihar Governor Satyapal Malik will be attending the event which lakhs of people from across the country are expected to attend. President Ram Nath Kovind had visited the place and assured help for reconstruction when he was Bihar Governor.

“Ram Navami is celebrated across the country, besides being a gazetted holiday. Nitish Kumarji, after becoming the Chief Minister again in 2015, had taken the first cabinet decision to celebrate Janaki (Sita) Navami. There should be no doubt that Sita had appeared out of the earth at Punaura Dham,” Jha told The New Indian Express.

The Bihar Chief Minister has assured that efforts would be made to turn the place into a major religious tourism destination by developing several other facilities, including a university.

“The Bihar Chief Minister has agreed that the Sita temple complex at Punaura Dham will be developed on the lines of the Nalanda and Vaishali universities that attract students from across the world. We will also urge the Central government to include the Sita circuit on the lines of the Budhha circuit for the promotion of religious tourism,” Jha said.

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