lights camera modi its a one man show on indian television

The grand opening of a temple in Ayodhya was both a religious ritual and a made-for-TV spectacle for a broadcast media co-opted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The people streaming into the holy town came on an intimate quest: to be among the first to seek the blessings of a beloved god they said was returning home after 500 years.

These Hindu devotees took leaves of absence from work. They ate with fellow pilgrims, slept in the cold and sipped tea at roadside joints as they waited to see the dazzling new temple devoted to the deity Ram. Early in the morning, as a soft devotional melody played from speakers strung to electric poles, they took purifying dips in a river.

But it was another, smaller group, camped on the riverbank in Ayodhya, that made sure the moment was as much about India’s powerful prime minister, Narendra Modi, as it was about Lord Ram.

As a show of laser lights and bone-jarring beats went on in the background, about a dozen national television channels tried to outdo each other in what for most has become a guiding mission: to shine a favorable spotlight on the prime minister’s every move.

“We should not forget that this is because of Narendra Modi,” a commenter on one of the shows reminded his viewers.

On the riverbank in Ayodhya, about a dozen national television channels aired their programs live.Atul Loke for The New York Times

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