Ram Navami was celebrated all over India and to my mind it appears that a kind of competitiveness has taken over and genuine devotion has taken a back seat. No, please don't misunderstand me. I don't question the spirit behind the celebration of festivals. But I do not understand why there have to be 5 pandals, each blaring a different devotional song, in a two kilometer stretch that I cover as part of my morning walk? Two such sites were on opposite sides of a busy intersection and honking motorcycles and cars raised the noise levels and pedestrians continued to cross the road oblivious to commuters on motorized vehicles. What is the purpose being served I wonder? Long ago as a school girl I read somewhere that festivals are actually social events and a poor man's method of enjoying the day. He forgets his woes and takes his children out, buys them an article or two as per his affordability and the family roams around enjoying the music that invariably accompanies such gatherings. This made sense if the participants were farm labourers who toiled hard all through the year and a whole village got together to relax and celebrate the day in a single temple. So much the better if the poorer sections of society were treated to good food in the form of a wholesome meal cooked in hygenic conditions. May be I am getting old and cynical but I find something missing in the way pujas are organized these days. It looks as if there is a pressing need to prove a point.
Lord Ram was a devoted son who spent 14 years in the forest to honour his father's commitment to his step mother. To my old fashioned mind it appears as if the best and only way to express one's devotion to Lord Ram whether as a deity or a noble King would be show concern for the elders in our family and others in our neighborhood. We have old people leading lonely lives with children having flown the nest. Why not spend an evening with them listening to soft music and relishing some wholesome, healthy food and generally making them feel useful and wanted? Why can't brothers live like Ram and Lakshman instead of fighting over who would look after their parents and for how long?
I often say that if a son or daughter is strong enough to say that these are my parents and I am going to provide them a peaceful life in their old age, their spouse and children would soon soon follow. They may not be happy doing it initially but will ultimately get used to it. Very often people disagree with me and say that several parents are dominating and demanding. The onus of explaining the situation to parents also falls on the son/daughter. Rare is the parent who does not understand the son/daughter's plight.
So while wishing all of you a 'Happy Ram Navami' though belated, let me pledge that I would celebrate the day serving/attending to those in need, preferably senior citizens so that their children working in distant places may lead their lives in peace.
My own mother was born on Janmashtami and passed away on Ram Navami day. She was on dialysis toward the end of her life. I was able to pay my respect to her memory on Ram Navami by spending sometime with a friend who is also on dialysis following kidney failure. I pray for her speedy recovery for her own sake and for the sake of the wonderful children that God has blessed her with.