Hanuman Jayanti just passed last week. This is an Indian festival to celebrate the life of Hanuman, the greatest devotee of Lord Rama. The best way to honor his life is to try to emulate his character in our own lives. The first start to doing this is it learn about him. So, in honor of Hanuman Jayanti, share the story of "Hanuman and the Pearls". Then, do the activity below which is based on this story.
"Hanuman and the Pearls" Story
After Rama wins the battle against the Evil Ravan, he returns to Ayodhya. A huge celebration erupts throughout the country and Rama's name is sung from the lips of all. However, Rama realizes that he did not win this battle alone. It was through the work of a million cooperating hands that he was able to achieve victory over Ravan's forces. It was through the help of silent soldiers like Hanuman that Rama ultimately won.
So after the war, Sita gifts Hanuman a beautiful pearl necklace as a symbol of her gratitude. Hanuman graciously accepts the necklace, but then he does something strange. He looks intently at the necklace, scrutinizing each pearl as if he was searching for something. Then, he breaks off one pearl at a time and crushes it in his hands, until the necklace is destroyed. All the people in the court are shocked. They call Hanuman foolish for destroying such a valuable gift and start mocking him.
Rama, however, knows better. He calls Hanuman over and asks him, "why did you break the necklace Sita gave you?" Hanuman responds, "While the necklace is indeed valuable and beautiful, its touch does not feel like the touch of your uplifting hands. Its beads smell nothing like the beads of your sweat, falling down your face when you work to help others. Its taste is nothing compared to the sweet taste of victory I feel by your side every day. Its sound is dim compared to the sound of your voice, bringing music to the downfallen. And though it is beautiful like the Moon, it still dims in comparison to your Sun. I scrutinized this necklace, but I could not find Rama within it. So what use do I have of anything that does not remind me of You or bring me closer to You?"
While Rama is touched by Hanuman's response, the rest of the court still mocks him. They say, "Just because an object does not contain Rama does not mean it is worthless. In fact, your body does not have Rama inside of it, but you are still so strong and powerful! Your body is still worthy despite not having Rama."
Hanuman laughs and responds, "My body is worthy because it contains Rama." He then rips open his chest, and, to everyone's surprise, Rama and Sita are seen right in the center of Hanuman's heart.
***There are a few different versions of this story, so feel free to tell the one you like best. I think its a great way to show your kids one of the qualities that makes Hanuman so great. In a world where people are constantly searching for things to make them happy, Hanuman realized that it is people and qualities that are most important.
"Hanuman and the Pearls" Activity
Use the two pictures here as a template to cut out an outline of Hanuman.
Have your kid draw a face on Hanuman.
Decorate Hanuman by giving him a hat and a necklace. You can use markers, crayons, glitter, or gems like we did.
Cut out a heart shaped piece of paper.
Write Rama on the paper in Gujarati or English.
Glue the paper to Hanuman's chest.
7. Fold the two sides of the paper so that it
looks like Hanuman is crossing his
chest. In doing so, you will partially cover
the word "Rama". See the photo to the
left for a visual depiction.
8. Have your kid repeat the story back to
you. When Hanuman rips open his chest
in the story, you can spread the hands of
your own Hanuman to reveal the Rama
that is hiding within all of us!