Sonntag, 14. September 2008

12.5. Festivals at the Ashram

A celebration at the Ashram

There was always a great celebration for Sri Ramana’s birthday (jayanti), which, according to the Tamil calendar, falls either at the end of December or at the beginning of January. The custom was started in 1912, when he was living in the Virupaksha Cave and when, for the first time, devotees organized a feast for him. At first he refused and wrote down the following two verses, explaining his reasons, “You who wish to celebrate a birthday, inquire first who was born. One’s true birthday is when one enters into the Eternal Being which shines for ever without birth or death. Of all days on one’s birthday one should mourn one’s fall (into samsara). To celebrate it as a festival is like adorning and glorifying a corpse. To seek one’s Self and merge in it is wisdom.”86

But Ramana’s protests were to no avail. His followers argued that they were celebrating his birthday for their own sakes and Maharshi need have nothing to worry about. So the festival became a tradition. Sri Ramana sat outside on his couch or on a podium decorated with flowers. Music was played, poems were read in different languages to honour him and a festival meal was served. Any poor person who came to the Ashram received a meal. In the later years the festival was attended by thousands with the police and Scouts being deployed to ensure that everything ran smoothly.

The anniversary of Alagammal’s burial (mahapuja) and Kartikai Deepam were celebrated in the same way as jayanti. Major Chadwick writes in his reminiscences, “Bhagavan always radiated tremendous peace, but on those occasions when crowds were attracted to the Ashram such as jayanti, mahapuja, Deepam and such functions, this increased to an extraordinary degree.”87

86 Collected Works, p. 143
87 Sadhu Arunachala: Reminiscences, p. 36

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