The great Indian epic Ramayan was presented by 60 kids from Bloomington – Normal, Illinois, USA with all fanfare and festivity on June 8 ,2008 at the prestigious Bloomington Center of Performing Arts (BCPA). This event was attended by more than 600 spectators who appreciated the talent and enthusiasm of kids enacting the scenes from this timeless epic. The occasion was the grand finale of “Kaun Banega Ramayan Expert” (KBRE) contest. This contest was organized simultaneously across towns in USA by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) .
Preparation for the event extended over a period of three months. The kids ranged in age from 4 to 15. All the dialogs were in English while preserving the reverence and deep emotional fervor associated with Ramayan.The well choreographed enactment was interspersed with drama, songs & dances, war scenes and melodrama. This is the first time such a large revue on Ramayana was performed in Midwest America.
The main objective of the event was to bring the spirit of Ramayan to every one in the community and lay the foundation of strong value oriented character among kids and adults. Mr. Shrinarayan Chandak (Vice President -HSS – Midwest region – USA, ) in his opening remarks dwelt on the significance of Shri Ram’s message in our current life and times. He emphasized on how lessons from the Ramayan can help us become better leaders and generate lasting success in our social, business, corporate and political involvement.
Mr. Saumitra Gokhale (North America HSS teacher) brought out significant and subtle relevance of being involved with Ramayan. Among others he also emphasized the valor of a bird called Jatayu in Ramayan who sacrifices his life fighting the powerful demon king Ravan. This episode reflects on the sheer conviction to fight for righteousness irrespective of strength. In another instance Lakshman decides to follow his elder brother, Shri Ram to the forest. Here the attachment and reverence of Lakshman was to the all noble and strong ideals of Shri Ram in addition to the unconditional love of a brother. Mr. Gokhale also stressed on how Ramayan is very relevant to our lives in spite being set in a very ancient time.
The scenes from Ramayan that got enacted included ‘Balakand’, ‘Vidyabhyas at Vishwamitra’s gurukul’, ‘Sita Swamyavar’, ‘Ram Vanvas’, ‘ Sita Apharan’, ‘Lanka Dahan’, ‘Setu Bandhan’, ‘Lakshman Indrajit yudh’, ‘Hanuman Sanjivani’, ‘Kumbhakaran yudh’, ‘Ram Ravan yudh’, ‘return of Shri Ram to Ayodhya’ and ‘Shri Ram Pattabhishekam’.
The extravagant show was appreciated by all in the community. The evening concluded by handing over of prizes to the winners of the KBRE competition which included online and in-person Ramayan quizzes, painting on Ramayan themes, story telling and elocution.The contest was preceded by narrating Ramayan stories to kids in the community.
The documentary on the ceremonious enactment of Ramayan in various cultures across the world from Siberia to Indonesia and from Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and beyond brought in focus the global hues in celebrating the glory and values of Shri Ram.
An informative documentary on the resources available to the kids in the community through ‘Balagokulam’ – a Sunday school on divine Hindu morals, scriptures and inspirations was also presented. The HSS Bloomington chapter has been successfully conducting ‘Balagokulam’ for kids for quite sometime now.
The evening of celebration left the kids and the audience ecstatic with divine joy commonly associated with Ramayan.
Resources : Balagokulam Presentation, Ramayana Introduction