The month of December is quite a celebrated month, especially in ending a leap year, a much-dreaded thought that entertains a negative imagination with contorted and convoluted perceptions.
This year 2020 has unbelievably posed unprecedented challenges which are compounded with the components of potent damages, devastation and destruction. The Jewish community celebrated their “Festival of Lights”, called Hanukkah, earlier this month, from the 10th to the 18th. These 9 days of “dedication” are observed by the lighting of candles on a menorah. The 7-day African celebration of Kwanzaa is to follow on the 26th day of the month of December to January 1st. This period is dedicated to the observance of life and to honour their heritage. The much-awaited Christmas is being celebrated on the 25th to observe the birth of Jesus Christ by Christians, this being a national holiday throughout the world.
Incidentally, Hindus in all parts of the world are also celebrating Gita Jayanti, the “birth” of the Bhagwat Gita, on the 25th of December this year, coinciding with Christmas Day.
Gita Jayanti Mahotsav possesses huge significance and importance as it is regarded as the birthday of the Bhagwat Gita, which is considered as the most pious and influential scriptures of Hindu Philosophy. It comprises political, spiritual, psychological, practical and philosophical values. Thus, to commemorate the sacred day when Lord Krishna offered his philosophical teachings to Arjuna during the battle of Kurukshetra, people celebrate Gita Jayanti. Gita Jayanti falls on the Shukla Ekadashi of the waxing phase of Moon in the Hindu month of Margashirsha. The celebrations of Gita Jayanti take place in several parts of the country of India, but the grand fervour can be seen in Kurukshetra. Devotees across India gather in Kurukshetra to participate in the ritual of taking holy baths in the sacred ponds named Brahm Sarovar and Sannihit Sarovar. To celebrate the day, a fair popularly known as Gita Jayanti Samaroh is organized every year, which lasts for almost seven days. Thousands of people gather and celebrate the festival with Gita readings, dance performances, skits, dramas, acts, bhajans, aartis, talks etc.
The text is written in the third person, narrated by Sanjaya toking Dhritarashtra as it transpired between Sri Krishna and Arjuna. Sanjaya, the secretary of the blind King Dhritarashtra, had been blessed by his Guru, Veda Vyasa, with the power to remotely view the events taking place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (modern day Haryana, India) as they transpired some 5000 years ago. Gita Jayanti is celebrated worldwide by all devotees of Lord Krishna who revere Bhagavad Gita as their Divine Mother because she teaches (in a non-sectarian and scientific manner) how to re-establish our lost relationship with God Almighty (The Supreme).
The 700 verses of the Gita are chanted throughout the day. Devotees also fast on this day since it is an Ekadashi day (Ekadasi is the eleventh day of the waxing moon and waning moon) – it occurs twice every lunar month and is observed by fasting from grains and lentils (peas, beans, dhals) by those who seek to progress spiritually. Special bhajans and kirtans are sung, and poojas are held on this day. In places where this festival is celebrated grandly, stage play and Gita chanting competitions are held for kids to show their talents as a way to encourage their interest in reading Gita. Yogis, Sanyasins, Swamis and learned scholars give talks and hold forums of this Holy Scripture. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books containing the essence of Gita are distributed to the public. It is especially auspicious to distribute free copies of the Gita on this holy day.
This has been a year particularly when the need for caring and sharing was highlighted, and man was tested for the spirit of generosity and charity. The Bhagwat Gita teaches us that, “A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.” No matter how great the struggle for survival becomes, regardless of the humongous challengers when many obstacles and impediments face us, the approach to a resolute determination is reproached by the will of strength and durability and the strong belief in a faith devoted to that “Higher Power,” referred to by multiple names but shadowed on a single path to oneness. The Gita reminds us that,
“The impermanent appearance of happiness and distress and their disappearance in due course are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from a sense of perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.”
On this grand and dual occasion, may peace, bliss, joy and happiness transcend upon all with the choicest blessings of Lord Krishna. May the spirit of the season remain with all throughout our lives. Happy Gita Jayanti and Merry Christmas.