The auspicious festival of Ram Navami (the divine appearance of Lord Ram on this earth) is celebrated on 10th April 2022. I personally don’t recall celebrating this festival as a child or teenager. The fondness and memory of any particular festival would be based on if it is ‘powerful’ enough to award a school holiday or can it inspire the family to go shopping.
Even today, I thought, that even though I am in the association of devotees and we have a festival to celebrate in the temple, have I truly reflected on its significance? I am aware of this occasion, but there is much more to this holiday, and on the consistent push of a dear friend, I am attempting to write a small reflection on this festival.
Festivals are meant to bring us together around a common cause or celebration. Sadly, more often, ‘religious’ festivals often appear to divide people of different faiths. I think that’s not because of religion, but because of a lack of depth or not understanding of religion in its spirit and true meaning. What will it take to make this festival relevant and interesting? Nothing new or extraordinary; if the story of Ramayana can be presented without any adulteration or change, that story itself can captivate the heart and mind of any listener. Who doesn’t like epic stories?
Human society has not witnessed a finer portrayal of relationships, mellows, and deep emotions than by Sri Valmiki in Ramayana. What makes it even more special and worthy is that they are centered around Lord Ram, thus making it transcendentally ever fresh. One can read Ramayana hundreds of times and never be bored.
One can find love, duty, hatred, devotion, envy, valor, diplomacy, philosophy, ethical dilemma, temptations, leadership, and even grief in these narrations.
Be it the influence of association on Kaikeyi, the dutifulness of Lord Ram, devotion and chastity of mother Sita, the lust of Ravana, the integrity of Dasarath, the sacrifice of Jatayu, or the servitude of Hanuman, each narration is full of anticipation and amazement. Two incidents particularly stand out apart for me:
There are innumerable stories and narrations in Ramayana in which one can meditate, reflect, and seek inspiration.
Hearing these stories can nourish our minds, hearts, and souls. The festival of Ram Navami is thus a festival of quenching the thirst of the soul. This thirst can be satisfied only by an unlimited source of love. This festival is a festival of imbibing the spirit of service that we see in Ramayana in multiple personalities. This festival is a festival of giving; to experience the love, shelter, and security of Lord Ram through his life and teachings. And then to become an instrument through which this pure love of Lord Ram can flow to others. Can our lives show others the love that Lord Ram has towards us?
What is the one thing that you can do today to become an instrument of the Lord’s love?
Sep 25, 2022
Archbishop Eric Escala, Continuing Anglican Church
Sep 24, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium