Kerala, a state located in the southernmost tip of India, though small boasts a rich diversity in culture. Located to the west of the Western Ghats, Kerala receives a rich downpour during the monsoons. In olden times, this meant that food was scarce and the constant rain basically confined one to ones home. The tropical location combined with the rain also meant that diseases spread quite fast and were more often than not fatal. Thus, monsoon was not a good time in any way for the normal people in Kerala. They therefore earmarked this month for taking care of the body and mind. Special nutrition rich diet was followed to strengthen the immune system; for the mind, they turned to spirituality. Thus began the tradition of reciting the Hindu Epic Ramayana during twilight. Traditionally, the grandmother or the grandfather reads out aloud from Adhyatma Ramayana by Tunjath Ezhuthachan while the family listens to it. It was a ritual to bring the family closer, to provide hope during distress and to inculcate virtuous values in the young ones. Today is the first day of that holy month, Karkidakam, and for those who do not have time to read the Ramayana, here is a shortcut – Ekasloki Ramayana, which means Ramayana in one sloka. The meaning is obvious to anyone who knows the epic, but the translation is provided anyway to help people who don’t understand Sanskrit.
Aadho Rama Tapovanaanugamanam
Once (or First, depending on the interpretation) Rama went to the Forest
Hatwa mrugam kanchanam
He killed the golden deer (which was in fact the demon Mareecha masquerading as deer)
The daughter of Vidaha (an Rama’s wife), Sita, was kidnapped (by Ravana)
The bird Jatayu was killed (by Ravana again)
Discussions were done with Sugreeva, the monkey king (by Rama)
Bali was killed (by Rama)
The sea was crossed (first by Hanuman and later by Rama and his troops)
The city of Lanka was burnt down (by Hanuman)
Paschad Ravana Kumbhakarna mathanam
Later Ravana and Kumbhakarna were killed (by Rama, and of course Sita was rescued)
Ethat ithi Ramayanam
This is, in short, the story of Rama.