Gita Jayanti celebrations in Singapore are now into its second decade. What is now a mammoth event spanning two days, had humble beginnings.
In 1997, Krishna Our Guide (KOG) and the National University of Singapore Hindu Society observed the holy day by congregationally reciting the Gita in full. Dr. T.K. Krishnamurthy of the NUS Law Faculty graced the occasion, which attracted a participation of around 200 enthusiastic devotees.
1998 saw the event being erected on a grander canvas. All Hindu temples and various Hindu organisations in Singapore contributed to the noble effort of making Gita Jayanti a major annual event for all, hosted by Singapore Hindus. Under the chairmanship of Sri V. R. Nathan of the Hindu Endowments Board, the event laid the foundation for future celebrations. The Ganapati Homam, continuous Gita Recitation and mass Homam (Havan) were enshrined in the framework for celebrating the event every year. In addition, talks by eminent speakers and Gita recitation sessions were held at various locations around Singapore throughout the year as a build-up for the actual event. H.H. Swami Hariharji Maharaj (at the age of 102), founder of the Geeta Ashram, was the special guest-of-honour.
The 1999 celebrations took off from the high notes set in 1998, this time under the chairmanship of Sri K.S. Rajah of the Hindu Centre. The event saw what was a first in Singapore and has now become another permanent feature of the celebrations: a grand gallery of sages, saints, spiritual teachers and leaders of spiritual organisations spanning the Vedic times to the present day. H.H. Swami Muktirupananda, President of the Ramakrishna Mission Singapore graced the occasion.
In 2000, under the leadership of Dr. V.P. Nair from the Chinmaya Seva Centre, another highlight was added to the event — the Geeta Chanting and Essay Writing Competitions. Rolling trophies for both competitions were sponsored by Dr. Nair. The competitions, the only one of their kind, attracted active participation from the children, youth and parents alike. Swami Mitrananda from the Chinmaya Mission graced the occasion with his dynamic presence.
The 2002 celebrations saw yet another programme being added to the already mammoth scale of the event — the Gita Forum, which hoped to expand the reach of the timeless message of the Gita and magnify the event’s nationwide scope.