Caribbean Hindus Ramayana in the Park - 2018
The 10th edition of ‘Ramayana in the Park’ was held at the Shri Surya Narayan Mandir courtyard, at 92-17 172nd Street, Jamaica nightly from August 12 to 18th concluding on the morning of the 19th. There were eight sessions of discourses of the Ramcharitmanas, one of the main Shastras of Hindus. The Ramayana in the Park was planned and organized by the Federation of Hindu Mandirs of America and The USA Pandits Parishad. It was held under the distinguished patronage of Dharmacharya Pt. Benimadho Rishi Misir.
The idea of Ramayana in the Park was conceived to promote and propagate Hinduism in the greater New York area. In particular, the founders wanted to present and spread the teachings of the Holy Ramayana and relate its relevance to modern day living. The Ramcharitmanas depicts the life of Lord Rama and Mata Sita, the avatars of Lord Vishnu and Mother Lakshmi respectively. Vishnu is the preserver of life in the Hindu Trinity of Lord Shiva (destroyer) and Brahma Ji (Creator). The Ramayana epic has a theme of conflict, distrust, greed, sacrifice, love, and gratitude over a battle or grab for power over a kingdom (Ayodhya). The overall theme focuses on issues relating to current day life and offering a solution for problems so that all human beings can use the Ramayana as a guide and reference in their own lives.
The original Ramcharitmas was written in Sanskrit by Adi Kavi Valmiki Ji and then later translated by Tulsidas Ji in Avadi Hindi the local dialect of the people at that time. The Ramayana has had a profound impact on people all over the world especially South and East Asia as far away as Indonesia (Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.) in the East and parts of the Middle East on the West of Bharatdesh. It has also influenced Hindus in the Caribbean and the Americas. The holy book has been used to stage plays in East Asia as well as in Bharat (India), America and the Caribbean.
President of the Federation of Hindu Mandirs, Pt. Ram Hardowar, in his presentation explained that the events described in the Ramcharitmanas are not myths. The events described actually took place and have been verified by archeologist and scientists. The fact that Lord Rama constructed a bridge between India and Shri Lanka is not disputed any more for there are an abundance of scientific proof from NASA and other similar organizations of its existence.
The nightly sessions were preceded by a youth concert at the same venue on the evening of August 11 featuring and encouraging local young talent. Each of the eight sessions attracted several hundred worshippers who are mostly descendants from Guyana and Trinidad with a sprinkling from Suriname, Jamaica, India and other countries. Each of the seven Kandas (section) of the Ramayana was presented by a different Pandit every night. The pravachans (learned message) were delivered as follows by Pts. Shyam Basdeo – Baal Kanda (Sunday), Gurdatt Jagnanan – Ayodia Kanda (Monday), Satish Deo – Aranya Kanda (Tuesday), Atri Deo Sharma – Kiskinda Kanda (Wednesday), Loaknath Misir – Sundar Knada (Thursday), Ram Hardowar – Lanka Kanda(Friday), Ganeshwar Ramsahai Uttar Kanda (Saturday), and Dinesh Tiwari - Gita chanting and Purnahuti(Sunday).
They were ably assisted by several Pandits who conducted the ground puja before and after each session that included aarti.
There were also bhajan singing by individuals and kirtan groups accompanied by music. Each of the session was streamed live online by Bhai Navin Phagu on his Akash vani program for audience around the globe.
The central theme each night from the learned Pandits was for Hindus to maintain dharma, remain steadfast in their Hindu beliefs, and retain their culture according to the examples set by Lord Rama and Mata Sita. At the conclusion of each session, devotees were treated to prasad and a full compliment of dinner.
Funding for the event came from donations from attendees and local Mandirs. Financial proceeds after expenses would be used for other events planned by the organizers. Every night after the pravachan, the Pandits thanked the planners, organizers, donors, and those who sponsored and packed bhojan and prasad.
At the concluding ceremonies on Sunday midday, each of the Vyasa Ji (Pandit) received a 10th anniversary commemorative award donated by Navin Phagu and family. Ramayan in the Park 2018 was indeed a great success and truly beneficial for Hindus here in the Tristate area.
The executive body and other organizers wish to thank all the donors and assistants who helped to make Ramayana in the Park a huge success. They also express gratitude to volunteerism of the entire executives who gave freely of their time: Dharmacharya Rishi Misir (trustee), Ram Hardowar (President), Gurdatt Jagnanan (1st VP), Bhola Adinarayan (2nd VP), Doodnauth Dasrat (Gen Secy), Navin Phagu (Org Secy), Balram Rambrich (Treasurer), Latchmin Kellawan (Asst. Treasurer), Vedo Basdeo (Trustee), Tara Baby Seetaram (Asst. Gen Secy), Parmanand Persaud (PRO), Romeo Hitlall (Community Liaison), Naidoo Veerapen (Member), Pavindradatt Parasram (Member), Amar persaud (Member), Suresh Udairam (Member).