Explained: The buzz over renaming Lucknow to Lakshmanpuri and the city’s connection to Laxman

Explained: The buzz over renaming Lucknow to Lakshmanpuri and the city’s connection to Laxman

Explained: The buzz over renaming Lucknow to Lakshmanpuri and the city’s connection to Laxman

Changing names of cities, roads, and towns is par for the course for the Yogi Adityanath government. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister renamed Allahabad, Prayagraj, and the Faizabad district is now called Ayodhya. Lucknow could be next.

A post by Adityanath on Monday has triggered speculation of a name change for the state capital. Welcoming Narendra Modi to the city, the CM tweeted, “Sheshavatar Bhagwan Laxman ki pawan nagri Lucknow mein aapka swagat aur abhinandan (Welcome to Lord Laxman’s sacred city, Lucknow)” along with a picture of Governor Anandiben Patel and him greeting the prime minister.

The tweet has now reignited the demand that Lucknow should be renamed “Lakshmanpuri”. But what’s the connection of Lord Laxman to the city?

The BJP claim

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have from time to time demanded that Lucknow’s name should be changed to Lakshmanpuri. It stems from the belief that Lucknow is derived from a name inspired by Laxman, Lord Ram’s brother.

In 2018, senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra, now the governor of Rajasthan, had said that the city’s name could be named Lakshmanpuri.

His remark came after BJP leader Lalji Tandon wrote a book, Ankaha Lucknow, in which he spoke of the city’s lost connection with Lord Laxman. Over the years, Lucknow’s “Laxman Tila” had been forgotten, Tandon wrote, and the only remaining association with the historic tila (mound) was the Teele wali masjid, a mosque built by a Mughal governor during the reign of Aurangzeb, according to The Indian Express.

“The name of the city had changed from “Laxmawati to Laxmanpur to Lakhnawati to finally Lucknow”, he wrote in the book, adding that the city had been given to Laxman by his brother Lord Ram.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's tweet calling Lucknow the sacred city of Lord Laxman has triggered speculation that the city's name could be changed. AFP

Laxman statue coming up

Months after the release of the book, the BJP proposed to install a statue of Laxman outside the historic Teele wali masjid. The Lucknow Municipal Corporation passed a proposal, which was put forward by BJP leaders Ram Krishan Yadav and Rajnish Gupta.

It was opposed by minority leaders and rival parties. A Muslim cleric had said that any such installation would create a hindrance to people offering prayers at the mosque. “In Islam, we cannot offer namaz (prayers) in front of a statue. This is a big problem for us,” he had said.

“We opposed the proposal saying there was already a statue of Laxman by the Gomti, which was not maintained well, so what was the need for another statue?” said Congress spokesperson Mukesh Singh Chauhan, who was a corporator at the time, reports The Indian Express.

While a budget was allocated, the proposal was put on hold because of the pandemic.

On 12 May, Lucknow civic officials announced that the construction of a 151-feet-high statue will begin next month in the city. Lucknow Mayor Sanyukta Bhatia said that the idol will be installed at Jhulelal Vatika near Hanuman Setu Mandir along the banks of the Gomti River.

Construction of a gallery “Lakshman Prerna Kunj” surrounding the statue, which will tell the story of Laxman and his many sacrifices is also on the cards.

Plan for a Laxman temple

A magnificent Laxman temple will also be built in Lucknow; a bhoomi puja for the proposed temple in the Gohanakalan village in the Jankipuram extension has already been performed.

The Ram Mandir is coming up in Ayodhya and the state government is looking to attract devotees and visitors to Lucknow by building a statue and temple dedicated to Lord Ram’s brother.

“It is from Lord Laxman that the city [Lucknow] derives its name. People will not only come here to worship Lord Lakshman but will also embrace his values and ethics… Just like the magnificent Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the state government wants to display the culture and heritage with this statue,” the mayor told India Today.

With inputs from agencies

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