A philatelic record of Sri Ram
By Lokpal Sethi in Jaipur
The Communist-controlled Laos was the first country in the sub-continent, which had issued a series of six postal stamps of the Ramayana period, way back in 1955. Laos is among the countries where Hinduism had reached centuries ago.
People like Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi and Communists may challenge the existence of Ram Sethu, Ram and the Ramayana. But crores of Hindus and non-Hindu countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Communist regime of Laos firmly believe in the historicity of Sri Ram and events related to that period. If this had not been the case, the rulers of these countries would never have issued postal stamps of Ram, Sita, Jamwant and Raja Janak of Mithila.
Noted philatelic Narender Jairath of Kota has with him the treasure trove of many rare postal stamps. Shri Jairath had received several awards for this collection of rare stamps. Among his price possession are about half dozen postal stamps of Ram, Sita and other characters of Ramayana period, issued by Indian postal authorities and other countries.
The Communist-controlled Laos was the first country in the sub-continent, which had issued a series of six postal stamps of Ramayan period, way back in 1955. Laos is among the countries where Hinduism had reached centuries ago. Though now there are hardly any Hindu, the successive regimes and the masses still respect the Hindu religion and its culture. In 1969 government of Laos again issued two postal stamps having Ram and Sita on them. This was repeated in 1971. Not only this, the government in 1974 issued postal stamps of Ganesh, Rahu, Narsingh, Saraswati and rain god Indra.
In Indonesia, which is a Muslim country, Sri Ram and the Ramayana are household things. To remember its Hindu past, Indonesian government in 1962 issued a series of six postal stamps, theme of which was the Ramayana. It celebrated Ramayana Mahotsava in 1971 and on that occasion issued two postal stamps. The first, carrying the picture of Sri Ram, was of Rs 10, whereas the second one was of Rs 30 depicting Ram and Sita with a mriga.
The Buddhist country Thailand had issued eight postal stamps in 1973. The stamps were carrying the picture of procession of Raja Janak and related events of his period. In 1996, during the international letter-writing week, the Thailand government issued a miniature sheet of four postal stamps of Ramayana period.
Our neighbour, Hindu-dominated Nepal, is ahead of us in issuing the postal stamps of Ram, Sita and about the Ramayana epic. In 1967 and 1968, royal Nepal government issued stamps of Ram and Sita to commemorate Ramnavami. One of the stamps was carrying the picture of Sita Janki Temple.
The Indian postal department had issued a stamp of Tulsidas, way back in 1952. In 1970 it issued a stamp of Valmiki, showing him with Ram, Sita and Laxman.
(The writer is a senior journalist based in Jaipur.)