Reflections on Prime Minister Modi’s swearing in ceremony

Rituals and ceremonies are inevitable in any public function. Man cannot live without ceremonies nor society can survive without them. Whether religious or secular, ceremonies are vital to human society. Having said that, India needs to move past the types of official ceremonies that are simply the lackluster, regimental remnants of the colonial era. One such event was Prime Minister Modi’s oath taking ceremony.

Although the occasion was historic, and there was a lot of enthusiasm among all the participants (except the ones who lost!), the ceremony was long and boring. I felt sorry for the dignitaries who came all the way from the SAARC countries – they had to sit there in the sweltering weather for 3 hours, listening to the same oath repeated 48 times. One does not invite guests only to bore them to tears. There was so much seriousness in everyone’s face. There was no music, no sense of celebration, and nothing colorful other than the president walking down many steps, which he may not have walked before.

In contrast, a traditional Indian coronation ceremony is much more colorful, and filled with music and dance. It would have been more appropriate to limit the numbers of individuals taking oaths to just the Prime Minister and half a dozen other cabinet member as a symbolic gesture. This could have been followed by speeches or words of appreciation from the visiting dignitaries, who would enrich the ceremony by bringing greetings from the people of their country. The Prime Minister would then acknowledge their presence, and reaffirm his commitment with a short speech, followed by music and traditional chanting.

Traditionally, in India when a King or Prime Minister is sworn in, he or she is sprinkled with waters from all the rivers and oceans of the land, reminding the leader of all that he or she needs to protect. In this manner, the leader takes an oath with the five elements bearing witness. Women then perform an aarti, and the Guru applies a tilak to the leader. Shehnai and nadaswarams, conches and drums play, and the youth dance in joy. With music and dance, the celebration concludes, followed by a grand feast. A ceremonial program should be such that there is something happening every moment that is interesting, keeping the guests engaged.

President Obama’s swearing in was much more captivating than the Indian swearing-in ceremony, where a few people even fainted. Compared to Prime Minister Modi’s ceremony, the swearing-in ceremony of Chandra Babu Naidu in AP was somewhat better, in the sense that there was a lot of pomp and show, and loud music to keep the 600,000 strong crowd engaged and involved.

Ceremonies, whether secular or religious, will capture the attention of the people if they are brief and engaging. If they are long, it creates boredom. Their purpose is to create a sense of sacredness and celebration. If boredom sets in, the very purpose of the ceremony is defeated.

Can we not make our ceremonies more charming?

Comments

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  1. Sharana Basaveshwar

    It is a must to follow some strategy where you have lot of leaders around and Make event meaningful & enjoyable as said by Guruji.If oath is same why not mass oath.

    Reply
  2. Seema Bhatia

    Bingo.you read the mind of all Indians.it was boring.much needed color and festivity wouldve made it charming!

    Reply
  3. Krishna

    I had not paid attention to swearing in ceremonies earlier but this time wanted to watch it for sure. But soon being bored by its monotony I channel surfed until Modiji came on. I too was expecting the ceremony to be more thrilling fun fare than what obviously has been handed down from colonial times.

    Reply
  4. meera murthy

    V, true , I still remember the sweating visitors , wiping their boredom out, I could feel the discomfort of all thanks for raising this topic, now all join the chorus

    Reply
  5. Soham D'Souza

    Absolutely true. We are still following some stupid boring protocol made ages back. As you rightly said that it should have been more brief and filled with celebration .Also they should have done it like the traditional Indian way as described .

    Jai Gurudeva !!!

    Reply
  6. Mihir Chavan

    Aptly put, the Government still loves to follow archaic and colonial law, rather than working on truly meaningful laws, a simple swearing in by Modi ji would have been sufficient, efficient and economica. A little Indian celebrative flavour to the ceremony would have given the SAARC dignitaries some entertainment and the world a taste of the vast Indian culture.

    The thing I want to say about you, is how boldly you present your views and that to in a non offensive language. While giving responsible criticism you have also given practical solutions to the situation.

    Reply
  7. v.t.siva

    Just prime minister should take oath alone and others together.why this repetitive torture.sure PM would and other states too take note and implement .

    Reply
  8. B.SHIVARAAM PRASAD

    JGD. I hope the new Govt. headed by Shri. Modi ji will give a thought on Guruji’s observations. It would have been better had the foreign dignitaries invited for offering their wishes to the new Govt. It would have served the purpose better.

    Reply
  9. Prabhavatsan Balan

    Super Article Guruji! 🙂 Wow what a way to do the job of a critic without being caustic. 🙂 Love you!

    Reply
  10. Ramkrishna

    Very True, The event was quite boring special with so much invites there
    , rather it should be followed with some music and dance as said by Gurdev

    Reply
  11. Phaniraj

    I’m awestruck & flabbergasted with the way H.H. Sri Sri Ravishankar ji has expressed his views & opinions in such a bold & gutsy way!

    Really worth pondering – the PMO has to take a note of such a thoughtful advice, and may be we see this suggestion being implemented in this year’s Independence day celebrations, with some kind of uniqueness (Modi effect) to it……..

    Reply
  12. Shilpa Shah

    Thank You Guruji for sharing Your wonderful views..Totally agree with Your viewpoint. Its unfortunate that even though we have inherited such a rich and vibrant culture, we still follow the colonial ways. Its only a true leader, a true visionary like You who can give us such wonderful insights into our glorious pasts, the rituals and their purpose and meanings. Indeed, ceremonies should be positive, practical and purposeful. And with Your dignified presence, even the most mundane, dull and boring becomes charming!!!

    Reply
  13. Vijaya Lakshmi

    Was thinking the same on the day.” I” /”main”… so n so…Was not it max boring fr our honble President too !! As we take sankalpa in pooja pandals, the purohit recites Aham………….. sankalpa karisyami.and we fill the name n gotra part by ourselves, in the same way oath taking should be once, in common fr all.

    Reply
  14. Priyanka Bagaria

    Bang on Guruji! The only charm in the entire ceremony was You and Modi ji’s oath taking speech. Rest was repetitive n boring. I wanted to switch off the TV, but didn’t just because Guruji, You were there!! Politicians need to learn from Art of Living events.

    Reply
  15. Rahul Kaushik

    Yes Guruji! Hope the PM reads it. He is famous for adding celebration into everything. He has done that in Gujarat. Hope he does here too, atleast after listening to u.

    Reply

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