Srimate ramanujaya nama:
Srimate ramanujaya nama:
Priya arangan adiyar,
The rooms were crowded with children and there was non-stop sound echoing from the rooms. At a distance from the room, it sounded as the random ramblings of restless children. But when at an audible distance, we realized it was the group discussion of the children on the pronunciation and meaning of important shlokas from SriRamayana earmarked for their recitation. Rooms were separately allocated for children belonging to Baalakandam, Ayodhyakandan and Aaranya kandam respectively.
The exam started at 10 :15am with the Judges occupying seats close to the blackboard and the children in the benches. Each child was asked to introduce himself/herself to the class and each child went on to discourse upon its ancestry! It was a delight to watch innocent kids talk thus. And then each child was asked to recite the following :
Important shlokas from SriRamayana (Valmiki) with their meaning
(One girl went on to enact the shlokas with ample actions to the delight of the viewers. Click here for Sriramayana in action)
Samkshepa Ramayana (this is the first SriRamayana to have been composed)
Paasurapadi Ramayana (A garland of Pasurams from Nalayira DivyaPrabandham detailing the incidents from SriRamayana)
Each child was tested for his/her memory, pronunciation and body language. But beyond that the Bhakthi in the children as expressed by them was also included in the assessment.One child was so deeply filled with Bhakthi for SriRama that the Judges and the onlookers were moved to tears. Even if the child had recited wrongly, she would have been awarded lot of marks (But the child was excellent in her recitation bagging the first prize in her group).Click here for SriRamayana in Bhakthi.
When we went to one room to oversee the progress, we only heard a voice reciting a shloka with none in view. But we finally zeroed in on a child sandwiched between two Judges. The child from the 1st Standard was a very cute little toddler reciting SriRamayana in his own ‘ baby talk’ (Mazhalai – there is no English word to match mazhalai. Babble is negative. Such is the greatness of Tamizh).
By 12 noon, all the children completed their recitation and were anxiously seated with their parents. The volunteers assembled all the children in one big room. The volunteers , along with the judges assessed the performance of the children and the Prize list was prepared. SriGomatam Madhavachariar swamy, a veteran in the Srivaishnava tradition arrived at the school at 12 p.m. He was accompanied by his Dharmapatni. They were to distribute the prizes for the children. Both of them were made to occupy places in the room where the children had assembled. And once they entered the room, the children recited the entire Sampkshepa Ramayana in chorus. We felt as though SriRama along with His family would come and listen to their energy-filled recitation. Click here for the chorus SriRamayana.
The Chief Guest,SriMadhavachariar swamy was introduced by a volunteer. The C.G asked the children “Did you recite SriRamayana or Mahabharatha”. The children instantly replied SriRamayana. He said “Yes. But you also recited Mahabharatha!”. Mahabharatha, the longest epic poem cannot be recited by anyone. The saaram of Mahabharatha is in Bhagavath Geetha, the essence of which is in SriVishnuSahasranamam. But what if that too is difficult to recite? When asked what was the essence of SriVishnu Sahasranamam, what can give the effect that the recitation of SriVishnuSahasranamam can give, Shiva told Parvathi “ SriRama rama ramethi……”. SriMadhavachariar swamy now asked the children “What did you recite today? The entire recitation was “SriRaama naamam”. Hence you have, by an ingenious way recited the whole of Mahabharatha today!”. The hungry faces of the children lit up by this explanation and their hunger dissipated.
Following this excellent speech, he distributed the prizes for all the children. No child went home bare handed. The C.G. further asked many children to participate in the competition and wished the children and volunteers to continue this joint effort.
The function ended with the proposition of the vote of thanks by a volunteer. The volunteer pointed to the other volunteers who were all women homemakers. He told the parents the pressure under which these volunteers had worked for the success of SriRamayana competition. Who was SriRama to them? Any relative like their great grandfather? Were they descendants of SriRama? No. Then why should they all work for this competition putting aside the assignments of their children or the need to go shopping? Well, the relationship they shared with SriRama was the same as the parents and onlookers shared with Him. He is the eternal father of all of us. Hence, the volunteer entreated the parents to volunteer. (We are very happy to inform that a child studying in 5th standard, inspired by the speech, has admitted 10 other children for the competition.)
As the children and parents were moving out of the school, a small child who did not participate in the competition was standing at a corner and crying. He was the sibling of one of the participants. This little fellow was not yet eligible for the competition. When asked why he was crying, he cutely asked “Prize for me?” in maximum mazhalai. So we carried him into a room and gave him a water bottle as prize. His face showed some sort of reconciliation. As we persuaded him to move out of the room, just at the entrance, as though recollecting something, he turned towards us and asked us “Certificate?” leaving us blinking!!!!!
For the photos click below :
For the videos, click here :
Other videos :
English explanation to shlokas - http://youtu.be/b0D7MjDHzkQ
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