Lord Ram devotees spread message of social distancing, wearing a mask

In the wake of Bengaluru witnessing an unprecedented surge in Covid cases since the last one month, devotees of Lord Ram wore costumes of Ram, Lakshman and Hanuman with the message of maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask as part of the Ram Navami celebrations across Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Several temple trusts and Sri Ram Seva Mandalis in Bengaluru hit upon this idea after it became amply clear that Karnataka will certainly ban religious congregations.

As part of this plan, several devotees wore costumes of Lord Ram, Lakshman and his chief devotee, Lord Hanuman requesting people to wear masks and use hand sanitisers.

Ram Navami celebrates the birth of Lord Rama on the ninth day of the Chaitra Masa month (April). Generally Ram Navami is celebrated with much pomp in several parts of Bengaluru.

The celebrations in Karnataka begin with a ceremonial marriage of Lord Ram and Sita known as Kalyanam. It is the temple priest who performs this ceremony with the idols of the God and Goddess. In the evening, there is a procession with the idols for the people to see who gather around and sing, dance and make merry. But for the last two years, Rama Navami celebrations have been restricted to temple premises due to the pandemic since March 2020 in Karnataka.

Though Lord Ram was a Kshatriya born and brought up in North India, he is believed to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Hence he is worshipped and revered all over by devout Hindus. Below the Vindhyas, Lord Ram holds an exalted status. The Ramayana mentions several parts of south India. Be it Hampi where the Kishkinda Kaand happened or Rameshwaram where Ram prayed before he left for Lanka, there are many places associated with the story of Lord Ram.

As a result of this, several Ram Seva Mandalis have come into existence. Most of these mandalis on all nine days organise Ramayana recitations, plays based on the Ramayana and Carnatic classical music festivals, which are very popular among devotees.

A Ram Seva Mandali member from Rajajinagar, Vishwanath Shastri told IANS that theirs is very small mandali unlike Karnataka’s oldest Mandali, Chamarajpet Ram Seva Mandali, which is very popular among music lovers since 60 years. “I have grown watching plays and music concerts. Even our mandali tries to do the same on a smaller scale. But for the last two years we are not able to organise any major cultural programmes due to the Covid outbreak. But this time we decided to use this festival to send out a loud message of maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. Therefore, youngsters in our locality wore costumes of Lord Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman to spread this message. We distributed masks as well,” he explained.

He added that several Mandalis are distributing masks to drive home the importance of wearing masks.