September 8, 2011
Bhadrapad Shukla Ekadashi, Kaliyug Varsha 5113
Good beats evil. From children’s movies to great works of literature, the motif is everywhere. The Ramayana, an Indian epic poem of the Hindu faith, is no exception.
Spanish Fork’s Hare Krishna Temple plans to host its annual India Fest this weekend, as a celebration of The Pageant of the Ramayana. The event will take place Saturday at the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork at 5 p.m. This year marks the 25th year the temple has put on the pageant.
Charu Das, who works at the temple and is in charge of this festival, explained the Ramayana. It is an ancient poem, written by Valmiki, who at the time was a murderer and robber. He wanted to cleanse himself and repent, so he was instructed to shout the name Ram, who is an incarnation of Vishnu, a Hindu god. Because Ram is perfect, Valmiki purified and cleansed himself from all his previous sins. He then wrote the Ramayana. It is now considered so holy, reading it in a seven-day period can cleanse a person of sin.
“The whole story is a triumph of good over evil,” Das said. “Ram is virtuous in every respect: he’s the perfect husband, the perfect son, perfect brother, perfect king. Never does he, even in his mind, commit any fault.”
The story is how Ravana, the antithesis to Ram, kidnaps Ram’s wife, Sita. Ram does everything he can to get her back, and eventually beats Ravana, proving good will always triumph over evil.
“You can get temporary gains by cutting corners and compromising your ethics, but in the long term, the universe is constructed in such a way that virtue is always rewarded, not necessarily immediately, but then again, immediate gratification is not the recipe for happiness anyway,” Das said. “The happy person is the person that acts with a long range view in mind.”
For the event, the Krishna Temple will have an abridged, one-hour production of the Ramayana, featuring local members of the congregation as actors. The pageant will end with a ceremonial burning of a 20 ft. effigy of Ravana, and fireworks. A vegetarian meal of Indian food will be available. There will also be acts of traditional Indian dance as well as a sitar tabla concert.
BYU students usually make up a good portion of attendees at the Krishna Temple’s events. Allyssa Elliott, a junior from Springville studying elementary music, has been attending events at the temple since she was in high school.
“The first time I went was on a date in high school,” Elliott said, “It’s neat to see what kind of people come and to be a part of something that’s bigger than not just Utah, but other parts of the world. We don’t have to fly on a plane to go to India and experience that.”
Kirk Hepburn, 23, a sociocultural anthropology major from Yucaipa, Calif., has also attended many festivals at the temple. Although he is LDS, he said he enjoys spending time there learning about a different culture.
“The chanting, the pictures, the food, the music and the dancing all combined into something so exhilaratingly foreign that I guess I got addicted,” Hepburn said. “It is fun, it’s a great sense of community, it’s a way out of our individual bubbles, and I frankly think we can all stand to learn a lot about how to see the world from those guys’ point of view.”