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Raamaayana Naatakam in Samskrit by Children

Raamaayana Naatakam in Samskrit by Children

Report from Edison, New Jersey:
URL: http://members.aol.com/balagokulam/report.html

In the middle of February, 2002, Sitaaji Sharma, the convener of New Jersey Raamaayana Mahilaa Samiti, made a request to Children of Edison Baalagokulam to come up with a few minutes Raamaayana play to be held during second anniversary celebration of monthly Raamaayana paat held in New Jersey. After discussing with parents and shikshaks, we made up our mind to accept her request. The event to take shape was seen as an opportunity to our children to familiarize with characters in Raamaayana to be used as a role model, which the Hindu children brought up in US very much lacked. After considering several national and international languages for the dialogue, we boiled down to Raam's and Seeta's language - Samskrit. Samskrit was also considered as an opportunity to our children to familiarize with a language of science and wisdom that originated in Bharath.

VHP's calendar of 1999 was used to select the scene and costume setting. Chakravarti Rajagopaalaachari's Raamaayana in English was used as base for understanding the characters and choosing the dialogue. Shri Shiv Paandyaaraam of Chinmayaa Mission translated the written English dialogues to Samskrit. The main inspiration for play was drawn from Shri Sudheer Phadke's Geet Raamaayana cassettes translated to Hindi and Samskrith and given to NJ vibhaag three years back by RSS prachaarak - Adaaraneeya Haribhau Vaze, currently stationed in Bhaagyanagar.

Quickly we moved from simplicity set by Sitaaji to complicity of one hour play that included 31 children that shared 88 roles, 534 words Samskrit dialogue in 7 of the 10 scenes, 3239 words narration in English (to fill the gap during scene change), clippings of 6 songs in Samskrit and 12 songs in Hindi from Geet Raamaayana cassettes, and 11 clippings of recorded narrations of Geet Raamaayana in Hindi. 31 children between the age group of 10 months and 10 years, their parents, and teachers together represented every state of India. Sindh, currently part of Pakistan, was also represented.

On the day of event on April 20th, a day before Raam Navami, at Durga mandir in Kendall Park, New Jersey, the coconut was broken to drive the evil spirits and please the deities. As the clock started ticking, parent's excitement started surfacing. After prayers to Lord Ganesh, we moved to the first scene exactly at 3PM, as planned. Play started with Luv and Kush entering the court of Raam during His Ashwa medha Yaaga and seeking His permission to sing Ram Charith.

Of course, we had technical difficulties with all things working except mike switch in mute condition. In the second scene, Raam was born with Kausalya raising the Aarati. In the third scene, Vishwaamitra enters the court of Dasarath to take Raam and Lakshman for protecting his Yagna. In the fourth scene, Sitaa swayamvar took place with Raam breaking Shiv dhanush. Bharath comes to take Raam back to Ayodhya in fifth scene and walks away with his sandals as symbol of respect and brotherhood. In the sixth scene, clueless Raam enters into a pact with Sugreev to find Sitaa. With Hanumaan entering the seventh scene in Ashok vana, all our technical difficulties fizzled and Sita regained her lost hope of reuniting with Raam. Eigth scene was full of fun for two reasons. One, there was no dialogue, but only music. Second, the scene involved several vaanars constructing Raam Sethu under leadership of Nala, enabling Raam and Sugreev team cross over to Lanka. Ninth scene was even more fun as Raakshas struggle to wake up Kumbhkarn with all musical instruments. In the tenth scene Hanumaan brings back life in Raam, Lakshman and other Vaanars. Audience was thrilled by the arrival of Hanumaan with Sanjeevini. When Raavan succumbs to Ram's fury of missiles, in the tenth scene, all were on feet to snap pictures. Play ended with Luv Kush leaving the court of Raam.

Displays created by parents added beauty to the play watched by over 300 people. Displays included, Raam Sethu satellite picture taken by NASA, places visited by Raam during his exile, Relevance of Raamaayana to modern times, Raam and Raavan parivaar, Indian contribution to the world of science, technological advances during Raamaayana times that included write up on art of Sanjeevini, Raam sethu - the construction marvel of floating and joining bricks, Pushpak vimaan and vimaana shastra of Sage Bhaaradwaaja that enabled vehicle mobility and parking in air, water, and land, missile technology of sarpastra, divyaastra, and brahmastra, and glimpse of cloning technology mastered by Raavan. One of the displays highlighted the importance of Kandahaar, currently part of Afghanistan, as the prominent part of Kaikeya province, the maternal home of Bharath's mother Kaikeyee. Takshasheela, (currently part of Afghanistan) the world's first Hindu university of 700 BC that attracted 10,500 students from all over the world, named after Bharat's son Taksha, was also highlighted in the display.

Play was full of excitement for the parents. There appeared more photographers than the characters in the play. Children were unaffected by technical difficulties. In the end, everyone felt that Hindu children can never be under estimated and Samskrit is very much a living language, fast rebounding to its original splendour. A Raamaayana quiz was held for children.

Play was followed by Raamaayan paat by Raamaayana Mahila Samiti. Bhajan filled the air with devotion to Raam, Sitaa, Hanumaan and Durgaa. After bhajans, Devi poojan was held to felicitate baalikaas on the occasion of Durgaashtami. Thereafter, Maananeeya Madan Dasji, Joint General Secretary of RSS, Bhaarath, distributed the trophies and certificates to all participants and addressed the gathering. Prasaad was shared by all those participating before departing to their sweet homes.

Let truth prevail and peace sustain.

Report by Raam Kaamath
for pictures visit : http://members.aol.com/balagokulam

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