Raigarh (Chhattisgarh) [India], June 4 (ANI): Chhattisgarh government organised a three-day 'National Ramayana Festival' in Raigarh, to celebrate the Hindu epic 'Ramayana' and created several world records.
During the event, 375 artists from 17 groups performed in the festival for 756 minutes over three days.
Throughout the festival, the pandal remained brimming with enthusiastic devotees for all three days, and guests from neighbouring states also graced the event.
The festival also created a world record of the longest stage performances of Aranya Kand and over 10,000 people chanting 'Hanuman Chalisa' for three consecutive days.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said that Lord Ram resides in everyone and is an integral part of everyone's lives.
Addressing the closing ceremony of the three-day festival at Ramleela Maidan in Raigarh, CM Baghel said, "The word 'Ram' holds immense power, the more you listen to it, the more you meditate on it, the more-deeper our thirst for its essence becomes. Our Ram is Kaushalya's Ram, Vanvasi's Ram, Shabri's Ram, our nephew Ram, and Ram is for all of us".
"The state government has organised the National Ramayana Festival for the first time in the state, which has achieved great success and proved to be a remarkable event," he added.
The Chief Minister highlighted the success of the National Ramayana Festival and expressed his gratitude to the jury members for their valuable insights.
"The festival was initially aimed to celebrate the Ramayana on a national level but eventually turned into an international event with the participation of groups from Cambodia and Indonesia," Baghel said.
He added, "The various previous festivals that were organised in different parts of the country mainly focused on chapters depicting Lord Ram's childhood and Ramleela, this festival has showcased the Lord Shri Ram's stories belonging to Aranya Kand for the first time.
The Chief Minister commended the efforts of all those who played a direct or indirect role in making the festival a success and extended his gratitude to them.
During the event, Baghel emphasised the significance of Chhattisgarh's forests and their connection to Lord Shri Ram's exile.
"Lord Shri Ram traversed the forests, rivers, and mountains of Chhattisgarh during his journey. As a state abundant in forests and rivers, Chhattisgarh holds its cultural heritage along the riverbanks. The conservation of rivers and nature is a priority of the state government, with dedicated 'Authorities' established for the preservation of the Indravati and Arpa rivers. A grand Maha-aarti was carried out for the Kelo, Mahanadi, and Shivnath rivers," he said.
The Chief Minister urged people to cherish and protect nature, acknowledging its valuable blessings. He also announced plans to establish a separate 'Authority' for the conservation of all rivers in the state.
Baghel also expressed his condolences for the loss of lives in the tragic train accident in Odisha's Balasore which has claimed 288 lives and left over 1000 people injured.
"Life is unpredictable and outcomes that happened in anyone's life are ultimately in the hands of God. I pray for the peace of the departed souls and to give strength to the families who have lost their family members in this accident," he said.
Chhattisgarh Culture Minister Amarjeet Bhagat, presiding over the program, said that people actively participated in the National Ramayana Festival.
"Raigarh remained immersed in the spirit of Rama, giving us the feeling as if we had arrived in Ayodhya. Chhattisgarh is not only the maternal home of Mata Kaushalya but also the cherished land of Lord Rama. The longest period of exile was spent in Chhattisgarh, establishing our timeless connection with Lord Rama throughout the ages," he said.
The Chhattisgarh government said that the festival has created a 'significant' record for holding the longest stage performances of 'Aranya Kand', lasting 765 minutes over three days.
A total of 375 artists from 17 teams across 13 states, including Chhattisgarh, as well as two international teams, Cambodia and Indonesia, participated in the festival. The Culture Department received recognition for the 'Most Stage Artist Performing on Aranya Kand' record, marking the program with the highest number of artists and for the longest duration, the government stated.
Additionally, the Raigarh district administration was also honoured with a world record for the collective chanting of Hanuman Chalisa by over 10,000 people. The Chhattisgarh Culture Department and the Raigarh District Administration of Chhattisgarh have received the acclamation in the form of a certificate from the Golden Book of World Records for their achievements, it added.
The Karnataka team emerged as the winner in the 'Aranya Kand' competition held during the National Ramayana Festival. It was followed by the Assam team in second place and the Jharkhand team in third place.
All three teams received a copy of Ramcharit Manas, memento, a state 'gamcha' and cash prizes. The first, second and third teams received prizes of Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh and Rs 2 lakh respectively.
All the states and jury members including from Cambodia and Indonesia were also honoured at the closing ceremony. (ANI)