Deepotsav and Shloka Competition in Seattle, WA

With the objective of spreading the holy scripture of Srimad Bhagavatham, GOD Seattle had set the tradition of organizing sloka competitions for the young. This was coupled with a short half day camp. With Sri Ramanujamji, visiting Seattle, the need was felt to create wonderful opportunities for the younger generation to reap the benefits of his presence. This lead to the organizing of the twin-events on Saturday, 3rd November, 2012.
The camp titled “Deepotsav” included three sessions, first being ‘Chime-a-rhyme’ (aimed at taking the message of Mahamantra to the children in a fun-filled manner), the second session being ‘Diwaliciuos’ (a session featuring ‘Kutti-kitta”, the peacock puppet who, along with his army of puppets, spread the tale of Diwali through the traditional and mesmerizing way of story-telling) and the third being ‘Hanumanimation’ (intended to take music and stories of Hanumath Bhakti to children in a palatable and easy way).
Sri Ramanujamji led the ‘Chime a rhyme’ session and took the message of Mahamantra to children by using fun gadgets like an electronic counter which was really well received by the children. The Dancing Peacock Puppet Company, a venture created by GOD Seattle, that uses puppets to spread rich tales with wonderful messages to children and audience of various age groups, handled the ‘Diwalicious’ session. The plot, written, created and executed by the Puppet company beautifully explained to the children, the two beliefs for celebrating Diwali, one of them being Rama’s return to Ayodhya (followed in the northern part of India) and the other being Krishna slaying the demon named Narakasura (as believed in the south). The children were then taught simple and lovely bhajans like ‘Seetha Pathe Rama’ and ‘Anjaneya Anjaneya Anjaneya Ram’. Sri Ramanujamji not only explained to the children the meaning of the bhajans, but also related the various facets of scriptures and made the session very interactive and intriguing by interleaving a question-answers session in-between. This was followed by the Shloka competition. Similar to last year, the shloka competition saw good participation. Every child had a 2-minute slot wherein they had to recite pre-selected shlokas from Srimad Bhagavatham and another Krishna shloka of their choice. Children were split into two age groups, one being 5 years and below and the other being 6 years and above. The shloka from Srimad Bhagavatham, pre-selected for the younger age group was “Namo achinchana vittaya..” while for the older age group, “Bharavataranayanye bhuvo nava … and “Bhave asmin klishya manaanaam” was selected.
Sri Ramanujamji presided over the competition. While he shared some valuable insights, he also emphasized that ‘shlokas’ are an offering and not to be said merely under the pretext of a ‘competition’.