RAMLILA: A TELLTALE OF VICTORY OVER VICE

By Amaya

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India is reckoned for its grandeur and vibrance all over the world- We as Indians relate much to vivid colors,exotic food,ornamented clothes,ample jewelry,zesty music. With September, begins the era of major indian festivals starting with Navratri and followed by Vijaydashmi and then the most awaited glorious Diwali. Navratri marking the beginning of the festive season is much sacred and pious and is celebrated all over the nation-in varied ways though. The most significant ritual that is followed during these days is RAMLILA-an enactment of the historical threads that weave the myths of our nation-a stage play of Lord Rama’s life portrayed with much vigour and zeal.

Ramlila is a dramatic expression of story telling which presents the life of Lord Rama tracing back to the times of his youth and concludes with the battle fought between Lord Rama and Ravan. This cultural ritual goes on for ten successive nights with the concluding night marking the victory of Lord Rama over Ravan,curbing the vices treading the victory of virtue. More than an episode of fun and entertainment it puts across profound in-depth moral messages to the society. It is believed that the tradition was initiated in sixteenth century by the great saint Tulsidas and is broadly an adaptation of his holy text ‘Ramcharitmanas’ which avers the glory of ‘maryada purushottam’ Rama. It depicts various episodes of his life, his trials and his eventual victory over Vice i.e. Ravan who abducted his wife Sita and Lord Ram along with his brother Lakshman,his follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys conquered him after fighting a great battle,which is celebrated on the tenth day of the tradition as ‘Vijaydashmi’.

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The play is staged on open-air theaters with numerous amateur local actors dressed up as characters from the Folklore,during night time. During scene-exchange or dramatic edges of the play, recitals from relevant verses of Ramcharitmanas are presented to the audience,in awadhi language or sometimes improvised and blended with the local language. The whole event is accompanied by drumbeats, and whistles from the audience. The killing of Ravan on the tenth day is enacted with more splendor and zest,huge effigies of ten-headed Ravan, his brother Kumbhakaran and his son Meghanath are placed in open grounds a little away from Ravan’s Kingdom(lanka). The actor enacting Rama shoots the arrow of fire at his navel and hence the effigies burn in flames. The burning is escorted with whistles and merriment gulped in the air of triumph.

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The vivid episodes from the life of Rama,proceeding from one chronicle to another is alike to a pilgrimage to Hindus and is hence a celebration of sacred virtues of our historical culture.The message hence is not just a depiction of an age old myth of Hindu Religion but holds a deeper connection with the society and the sense of righteousness.