Today is the birth anniversary of Lata Didi, the revered and affectionate idol of all of us. Incidentally, today, the third day of Navratri, is also the festival of worship of Mother Chandraghanta. It is believed that when a seeker goes through rigorous ‘sadhana’ (practice), he or she experiences and feels the divine voices by the grace of Maa Chandraghanta. Lata ji was one such devotee of Maa Saraswati who stunned the whole world with her divine voice. Lata ji did ‘sadhana’, but all of us got blessings. This huge ‘Veena’ (musical instrument) of Maa Saraswati, installed at Lata Mangeshkar Chowk in Ayodhya, will become a symbol of that musical practice. I am told that 92 white lotuses made of marble in the flowing waters of the lake in the Lata Mangeshkar Chowk complex represent her life span. I heartily congratulate Yogi ji's government, Ayodhya Development Authority and the people of Ayodhya for this innovative effort. On this occasion, I, on behalf of all the countrymen, pay heartfelt tributes to Bharat Ratna Lata ji. I pray to Lord Shri Ram that the blessings we got from her life should continue to leave a mark on the coming generations through her melodious songs.
I have so many emotional and affectionate memories of Lata Didi. The familiar sweetness of her voice mesmerized me every time I spoke to her. Didi often used to tell me: 'Man is not known by age but by deeds, and the more he does for the country, the sublime he becomes!’ I believe that the Lata Mangeshkar Chowk of Ayodhya and all such memories associated with her will enable us to feel a sense of duty towards the nation.
I remember when the Bhoomi Pujan for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya was carried out, I got a call from Lata Didi. She was very emotional, happy and was blessing me. She could not believe that the construction of Ram Mandir was finally taking place. Today I am reminded of the hymn sung by Lata Didi - ‘Mann ki Ayodhya tab tak sooni, jab tak Ram na aaye’. The arrival of Shri Ram to the grand temple of Ayodhya is imminent. The name of Lata Didi, who instituted Ram among crores of people, is now permanently associated with the holy city of Ayodhya. It is written in Ramcharitmanas, “Ram te adhik, Ram kar dasa”, which means that the devotees of Lord Ram arrive before the Lord’s arrival. Therefore, the Lata Mangeshkar Chowk built in her memory has come up before the completion of the grand temple.
Lord Ram is the symbol of our civilization. Ram is the living ideal of our morality, values, dignity and duty. Lord Ram is absorbed in every particle of India from Ayodhya to Rameshwaram. The entire country is thrilled to see the rapid pace of construction of the temple with the blessing of Lord Ram. It is a re-establishment of Ayodhya’s proud heritage, and also a new chapter of development. I am happy that the place where Lata Chowk has been developed is one of the major connecting sites of various places of cultural importance in Ayodhya. This chowk is near Ram ki Paidi and the holy stream of Saryu is also not far away from it. What better place to build a chowk named after Lata Didi? As Ayodhya has kept Ram in our mind even after so many ages, similarly the hymns of Lata Didi have kept our conscience immersed in Lord Ram. Be it the Ramcharitmanas mantra of 'Shri Ramchandra Kripalu Bhaj Mann, Haran Bhava Bhaya Darunam', or Meerabai’s 'Payo Ji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo', be it Bapu’s favourite 'Vaishnav Jan', or the sweet melodies like 'Tum Asha Vishwas Hamare Ram'. Many countrymen have experienced Lord Ram through such songs sung by Lata Ji. We have experienced the supernatural melody of Lord Ram through the divine voice of Lata Didi.
This effect does not come from words and vocals alone in music. This effect comes when the person singing the hymn has that feeling, devotion, relationship and dedication to Ram. That is why the mantras recited by Lata ji echo not only her vocals in the hymns but also her faith, spirituality and purity.
Even today, the vast form of Mother India starts appearing in front of our eyes as we listen to the call of 'Vande Mataram' in Lata Didi’s voice. Just as Lata Didi was always very conscious about civic duties, similarly this chowk will also inspire the people living in Ayodhya and the people who come to Ayodhya for their devotion. This chowk, this ‘veena’ will further resonate the development of Ayodhya and the inspiration of Ayodhya. This chowk, named after Lata Didi, will also act as a place of inspiration for the people associated with the world of art in our country. It will remind everyone to take the art and culture of India to every nook and corner of the world while moving towards modernity and staying connected to its roots. Taking pride in the thousands of years old heritage of India, it is our duty to take the art and culture of India to every nook and corner of the world. For this, dedication like Lata Didi and immense love for our culture is essential.
I am sure every seeker of the world of art of India will get to learn a lot from this Chowk. Lata Didi's vocals will connect every particle of the country for ages to come. With this belief, I also have some expectations from the people of Ayodhya. Ram temple will be built in the very near future and many people of the country will come to Ayodhya. The people of Ayodhya have to make a grand, beautiful and clean Ayodhya. We have to make preparations in this regard from today itself. This has to be done by every citizen of Ayodhya. Only then any visiting devotee will experience the reverence of the Ram temple as well as the arrangements, grandeur and the hospitality of Ayodhya. My brothers and sisters of Ayodhya, start the preparations now. May Lata Didi's birthday continue to inspire you forever! Wish you all the very best.