Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hindus celebrate Rama Navami in Southern Illinois

What a beautiful, sunshine-y day to celebrate the birth of Lord Rama!

Hindu devotees showering rice grains on the Rama-Sita deities. 
The Hindu Temple and Cultural Society of Southern Illinois celebrated Sri Rama Navami this afternoon.

A holy festival spread over nine days, Rama Navami celebrates the birth of Lord Rama, considered to be the seventh avatar of the Supreme God Vishnu and the hero of the great Indian epic, The Ramayana.

A hundred or more Hindus joyously attended Sri Rama Kalyanam (ceremonial divine marriage ceremony of Lord Rama and Sita) performed by a priest who was brought to Carbondale all the way from The Hindu Temple of St. Louis.

The ritualistic ceremony included plenty of chanting in Sanskrit and some explanation in English, so everyone could follow what was going on. This was followed by devotional songs by community members and a sumptuous Indian lunch.

I think most of us went home and napped for a good long while after all that overeating and socializing, following the main ceremony!

My husband and I dressed up in our Indian finery 
For Indian immigrants like me, the enthusiastic community celebration plays a vital role in keeping the Hindu festival alive and much looked forward to. Its when we proudly get into our silk sarees and wear our dozens of jingling glass and gold bangles, dot our foreheads and pull out the Indian rubies and emerald earrings from our bank's safe deposit box.

Its a chance to pretend we are still in India.

And for a short while, it almost seems like we are back home - the Sanskrit chanting, the clothes, the food, the atmosphere, the catching up with dear ones - all the things you grew up with and took so much for granted and now miss more than ever.

Little Miss M. poses with her friend
As parents and immigrants, my husband and I feel this big responsibility to make Little Miss M's Indian heritage be a badge of honor she will carry proudly for the rest of her life.

So we do our best to cherish and keep alive many of the traditions and festivals from our homeland, while assimilating with the country we live in now.