Monday, September 28, 2009

Ramlila Behind the Scenes

Backstage With Ramilila Artistes

Backstage with the Ramlila artistes in their sanctum sanctorum, the place where they collectively help each other to dress up, apply make up, accessorize their characters .

There is no dress man as found in film or theater productions.

The actors are kids , young men senior people from different walks of life .. bought here from Mathura , to portray good over evil.. through a theatrical vehicle called Ramlila.

They later on stage become divine characters they it Ram Lakshman Sita or Ravan or Hanuman.

A lot of effort goes in bringing their characters to life , this is is my pictorial tribute to all of them and a part of my story board called Hope and Hindutva a message of Peace.

It was a field day for photo journalists each trying to invent a different approach to their shots..I as a blogger dont get intimidated by their fancy cameras or their fancy names..I shoot this with a divine passion that borders on a spiritual lunacy of my mind and soul.

A day before the artistes and the Ramlila management had stopped access to photographers from going backstage , and I faced their ire too, and it was allegedly an article written by a reporter and shot by a photographer of Hindustan Times that had hurt their religious sentiments.

I was made the scapegoat , insulted humiliated by one of the Ramlila volunteers for this aberration for no fault of mine.

But last evening I believe matters had been sorted out between the Press and the Ramlila management , I was lucky to be able t shoot all this.
The persons who play Ram and Lakshman are very fond of me, and interestingly it is the person that played Ram last year is playing Lakshman and vice versa , because of height change in an year..Ram has to look taller than Lakshman.

The person who portrays Ravan is Siddha Chaturvedi I call him the Wise One he is indeed wise and full of wisdom..

I am great fan of Lord Shiva so you can see much of my affection and sympathy lie with Lord Ravan a victim of his karmic destiny..In a way Ravan is a Hero too in his own rights..He did what he had to do..

Dasshera symbolizes good over evil is a bold and beautiful message for all of us.

This is one of my most interesting photo shoot and I knew when to bring it to a halt , I left backastage as soon as the curtain rose for the show..

I am grateful to all the Ramlila committee members specially Mr Sundar I Kannar who loves photography with a passion , a very hospitable polite and a very human person..

I dd not stay too long once again walking barefeet from Shivaji Park to Mahim , I shot a few frames of Durga at Sitla Devi too at their Arti.

"Cancalam Hi Manah Krsna Pramathi Balavaddrdham
Tasyaham Nigraham Manye Vayoriva Suduskaram"

This Sloka states that the Individual self is the traveler in the chariot of the material body and the intelligence is the driver. Mind is the driving instrument and the senses are the horses. Thus, the self is the enjoyer or sufferer in the relationship of the mind and senses.

for more shlokas see

Amchi Mumbai and Dasshera

97,742 items / 593,749 views

I shot the streets at Dadar literally littered with flowers and mango leaves for Dasshera puja.Poor families making garlands to be bought by people to appease the Gods.. requesting the Gods for Peace and Prosperity calm in the city that we all love and fondly call it Amchi Mumbai..A city that has blessed us all in bad times good times and in all seasons.

Mumbai is a cauldron of calm , I have had many offers to shift professionally to Bangalore and Pune , but I just cant think of relocating my made in Mumbai soul..the power of Mumbai has its hold on me far too deeply..I am enslaved to the warmth , the love that I get from this city , this city of loved ones friends and well wishers.

So I shoot this city , despite my ill health, despite all my problems that have enmeshed me badly..I shoot to share, to show you through my camera eye the world that appears to me vividly , ritualistically culturally ..yet it all becomes a single spread weft and warp of godliness depending on how you see it..

Yes Mumbai is a neighborhood , Arti at your end and Azan at my end synchronizing the spirituality of our diverse souls.. so many other religiosity living as bricks in a single wall holding a edifice that is the heritage of our children s children.

I wonder apprehensively had I not taken up photography , what would have been the condition of my inner soul , maybe a vast wasteland that gave birth to blogs ..Prior to this I never wrote anything , but I was a good letter writer no poems nothing..

Photography made me an incorrigible Blogger , barefeet blogger of Mumbai..

About Dasshera

Vijayadashami (Bengali: বিজয়াদশমী, Kannada: ವಿಜಯದಶಮಿ, Malayalam: വിജയദശമി, Marathi: विजयादशमी, Nepali :विजया दशमी, Tamil: விஜயதசமி, Telugu: విజయదశమి) also known as Dasara (also written Dussehra) Bengali: দশেরা, Kannada: ದಸರ, Malayalam: ദസറ, Marathi: दसरा, Telugu: దసరా) and Dashain (in Nepali), is a festival celebrated in varying forms across Nepal and India. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu autumn month of Ashvin or Ashwayuja, and is the grand culmination of the 10-day annual Navaratri (Sanskrit: नवरात्रि, 'nine nights') festival. It is the largest festival of Nepal, and celebrated by Hindu and non-Hindu Nepalis alike.

Vijaya Dashami also known as Dasara, Dashahara, Navaratri, Durgotdsav... is one of the very important & fascinating festivals of India, which is celebrated in the lunar month of Ashwin (usually in September or October) from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada (the next of the New moon day of Bhadrapada) to the Dashami or the tenth day of Ashwin.

In India harvest season begins at this time and as mother earth is the source of all food the Mother Goddess is invoked to start afresh the new harvest season and to reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil by doing religious performances and rituals which invoke cosmic forces for the rejuvenation of the soil.

On the day of Dasha-Hara, statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in the river waters. These statues are made with the clay & the pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are powerful disinfectants and are mixed in the river waters. This makes water useful for the farmers & yields better crops.

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Hindawi (Hindu) Swarajya - Maratha Empire used to always worship Lord Shiva & Goddess Durga in the form of goddess Bhawani before any military expedition. Goddess Bhavani had blessed Shivaji Maharaj with her own sword called “Bhavani Talwar” on this blessed day.

Buses, trucks and huge machines in factories are all decorated and as Dasha-Hara is also treated as Vishwakarma Divas - the National Labor Day of India.

Veda Vyasa is considered as the foremost Guru and Vijayadasami is also celebrated as Vyasa puja.

Dasha-Hara is the festival of Victory of Good over Evil.

The history of Dussehra is an ancient one and derives its origin from a number of popular legends found in the scriptures.
[edit] Victory of Prabhu Ramachandra over Ravana

On this day in the Treta Yug, Shri Ram (7th incarnation of Vishnu), killed the great demon Ravan who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his wife Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days.

Rama had performed "Chandi Hom” and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana. Durga blessed Rama with the secret to kill Ravana. Ravana was defeated in his own kingdom of Lanka by Rama & the vanarsena. Rama with Sita & Laxman returned victorious to his kingdom of Ayodhya on the Ashwin Shukla dashami. This victory of Rama is since then celebrated as “Vijaya Dashami”.

So also prior to the defeat of Ravana, when Rambhakt Shri Hanuman went to Lanka to search Sita, he found her on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami.

During these 10 days of Dasha-Hara, huge idols of Ravana, Kumbhakarna (brother of Ravana) & Meghanad (son of Ravana) are erected and are set on fire by the enthusiastic youth at the sun set.

After Dasha-Hara, the hot weather of the summer ends, especially in North India and as the winter starts, the cold weather becomes breeding ground for many kinds of infections. Hence burning huge Ravana statues filled with the crackers containing phosphorous purifies the atmosphere. At the same time the temples perform Chandi Homa or Durga Homa which also helps in purifying the atmosphere.

Many houses also perform Aditya Homa as a Shanti Yagna and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for 9 days. All these Yagna Performances are to create powerful agents into the atmosphere surrounding the house so as to keep the household environment clean & healthy.

The purpose of performing these homas is also to kill & sacrifice the 10 bad qualities, which are represented by ten heads of Ravana as follows:

(1) Kama vasana (Lust), (2) Krodha (Anger), (3) Moha (delusoion), (4) Lobha (Greed), (5) Mada (Over Pride), (6) Matsara (Jealousy), (7) Manas (Mind), (8) Buddhi (Intellect), (9) Chitta (will) & (10) Ahankara (Ego).

Some houses perform Yagnas 3 times daily along with sandhya vandana, called as Aahavaneeya Agni, Grahapatya Agni, Dakshina Agni. In addition to this, the Aditya Homa is performed with the Maha Surya Mantras and the Aruna Prapathaka of the Yajurveda. The effect of these mantras is to keep the heart, brain and digestive functions of the body in balance. The imbalances in these occur in the absence of adequate sunlight in the winter months.
[edit] Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasur

Some of the Aasuras (Demons) were very powerful and ambitious, and continually tried to defeat Gods and capture the Heaven. One such Aasura called Mahishasur, who looked like a buffalo, grew very powerful & created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership the Aasuras even defeated the Devas (Gods), all of whom were powerless including Brahma, Vishnu etc... Finally, when the world was getting crushed under Mahishasura's tyranny, the Devas came together & contributed their individual energy to form “Shakti” a single mass of incandescent energy to fight & kill Mahishasur.

A very powerful band of lightening dazzled from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh (Shiva) and a beautiful, magnificent, radiant young virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her. This Shakti coalesced in the form of Goddess Durga.

Durga with weapons in her ten hands, riding on Lion, who assisted her in the fight, took on Mahishasur. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashwin shukla paksha, the evil demon Mahishasur was defeated & killed by Durga.

Hence Dasha-Hara is also known as Navaratra or Durgotsava and is a celebration of victory of Goddess Durga. Durga as Consort of Lord Shiva represents two forms of female energy - one mild & protective and the other fierce & destructive.
[edit] Home Coming of Durga Mata

Daksha, the Lord of the Earth, and his wife, Menaka, had a daughter called Sati. Uma, right from her childhood, started worshipping Lord Shiva as her would-be-husband. Lord Shiva, being pleased with the worship of Sati, came to marry her. Daksha was against their marriage but could not prevent it to happen. A little time later, Daksha arranged a `yagna` where everyone except Lord Shiva was invited. Sati, feeling ashamed of her father`s behaviour and shocked by the attitude metted towards her husband, killed herself. There was no end to his anguish when Lord Shiva came to know about this. He lifted the body of Sati on his shoulders and started dancing madly. With the supreme power dancing with wrath, the World was on the verge of destruction.

Then Lord Narayana came forward as a saviour and used his `Chakra` to cut Sati`s body into pieces. Those pieces started falling off from the shoulder of the dancing Shiva into different parts of the World. Shiva was finally pacified when the last piece fell off from his shoulder. Lord Narayana, however, revived Sati to new life. The places where the pieces had fallen are known as the `Shakti Piths` or energy pits. Kalighat in Kolkata, Kamakshya near Guwahati and Vaishnav Devi in Jammu are three of these places.

In her next birth Sati was born as Parvati/ Shaila-Putri(First form of Durga), the daughter of Himalaya. Lord Narayana asked Shiva to forgive Daksha. Ever since peace was restored, Durga, with her children, Kartikeya, Ganesh and her two `sakhis` - Jaya and Vijaya, comes to visit her parents each year during the season of `Sharatkal` or autumn when Durga-Puja is celebrated. Thus the other name of Durga-puja is `Sharodotshob`.
[edit] End of Agnyatwas of Pandavas

In Dwapar Yuga, after Pandavas lost to Kauravas in the game of Dice, they had to proceed to 12 years of “Vanawas” (exile to forest) followed by one year of Agnyatawas. Pandavas spent 12 years in forest and hid their weapons in a hole on a “Shami” tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the last one year of Agnyatwas. After the completion of that year on Vijayadashmi they took the weapons from the Shami tree, declared their true identity & defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle wealth.

Since that day the exchange of Shami leaves on Dassera day became symbols of good, will and victory. Hence on Dasha-Hara Shami Tree & the weapons are worshipped.
[edit] Kautsa's Gurudakshina

Kautsa, the young son of Devdatt, a Brahmin, was living in the city of Paithan. After completing education from Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting Guru Dakshina (present).

But Guru said, "Kautsa, to give 'dakshina' in return for learning wisdom is not proper. Graduation of the disciple makes the guru happy, and this is the real Guru Dakshina."

Kautsa was not satisfied. He still felt it was his duty to give his guru something. Finally the guru said, "Alright, if you insist on giving me dakshina, so give me 140 million gold coins, 10 million for each of the 14 sciences I have taught you."

Kautsa went to king Raghu. Raghuraja was an ancestor of Lord Rama, famous for his generosity. But just at that time he had emptied all his coffers on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. He asked Kautsa to give him three days' time. Raghuraja immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra. Indra summoned Kuber, the god of wealth. Indra told Kuber, "Make a rain of gold coins fall on the "Shanu" and "Aapati" trees round Raghuraja's city of Ayodhya."

The rain of gold coins began to fall. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, and Kautsa hastened to offer the coins to Varatantu Rishi. Guru had asked only 140 millions, so he gave the rest back to Kautsa. Kautsa was not interested in money. In those days honor was considered more valuable than wealth. He asked the king to take the remaining gold coins back. But the king refused to take them back as kings do not take back the daan (gift).

Finally Kautsa distributed the gold coins to the people of Ayodhya on the day of Ashwin shukla dashami. In remembrance of this event the custom is kept of looting the leaves of the "Aapati" trees, and people present each other these leaves as "sone(gold).
[edit] Simollanghan – crossing the border - War Season

In ancient times kings used the feast of Dasha-Hara to cross the frontier and fight against their neighboring kingdoms. This border crossing is known as "simollanghan". Thus Dasha-Hara also marks the beginning of the war season.

Lord Hanuman

97,737 items / 593,704 views

Hanuman is a monkey god. He is a noble hero and great devotee of Lord Rama of the Ramayana.

This deity is a provider of courage, hope, knowledge, intellect and devotion. He is pictured as a robust monkey holding a mace (gada) which is a sign of bravery and having a picture of Lord Rama tatooed on his chest which is a sign of his devotion to Lord Rama.

He is also called Mahaveera (the great hero ) or Pavan-suta (son of air) or Bajarangbali.

Happy Dasshera

97,684 items / 593,625 views

evil too is a blessing
in sartorial disguise
evil the worlds
most flourishing enterprise
every experience bitter hurtful
brings forth wisdom
teaches you to be wise
in a world where
corruption rules
the poor man cries
in a world where truth is
bartered for a wealth of lies
ravan and ram
lie within man
good bad ugly
all at a price
at the feet of
one's paradise
happy dassheraa
from a barefeet blogger
pictorial harmony
hope and hindutva
with a pinch of spice
it does not cost a penny
to be good and nice
every time you fall
you need to rise
mind matters
not just size

Ramlila Shivaji Park 2009

97,578 items / 593,348 views

Ramlila (Hindi: रामलीला) (literally 'Rama’s lila or play') is a dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Ram, ending up in ten day battle between Lord Ram and Ravan, as described in the Hindu religious epic, the Ramayana.[1] A tradition that originates from the Indian subcontinent, the play is staged annually often over ten or more successive nights, during the auspicious period of 'Sharad Navratras', which marks the commencement of the Autumn festive period, starting with the Dussehra festival. Usually the performances are timed to culminate on the festival of Vijayadashami day, that commemorates the victory of Lord Ram over demon king Ravana, when the actors are taken out in a procession through the city, leading up to a mela ground or town square, where the enactment of the final battle takes place, before giant effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakaran and son Meghanath are set fire, and coronation or abhisheka of Rama at Ayodhya takes place, marking the culmination of festivities and restoration of the divine order.[2]

Rama is the 7th incarnation of Vishnu and central figure of the Ramayana. The Ramayana is based on the life, times and values of Lord Rama. Lord Rama is called the Maryada Purushottam or the 'The best among the dignified'. The story of Lord Rama and his comrades is so popular in India that it has actually amalgamated the psyche of the Indian mainstream irrespective of their religion. The very story of Ramayana injects ethics to the Indian mainstream.

Most Ramlilas in North India are based on the 16th century Avadhi version of Ramayana, Ramacharitamanas, written by Gosvami Tulsidas entirely in verse, thus used as dialogues in most traditional versions, where open-air productions are staged by local Ramlila committees, 'Samitis', and funded entirely by the local population, the audience.[3] It is close to the similar form of folk theatre, Rasa lila, which depicts the life of Krishna, popular in Uttar Pradesh, especially Braja regions of Mathura, Vrindavan, and amongst followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and Vaishnavism in Manipur, with some similarity with Pandavlila of Garhwal, based on life of Pandavas of Mahabharat and Yakshagana of Karnataka, based on various epic and puranas.[4]

Ramlila has received considerable global attention, especially due to its diverse representation throughout the globe, especially amongst the Indian diaspora community, and regions where Hinduism has spread over the centuries, like Africa and several South East Asian countries. UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of Ramlila a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.[5] Subsequently, Govt. of India and IGNCA produced a two hour documentary, titled "Ramlila - The traditional performance of Ramayana" for UNESCO, on 'Ramnagar Ramlila', and Ramlila traditions of Avadh, Braj and Madhubani, and that of Ayodhya, which assimilates elements of all three.[6] Another unique Ramlila, is being staged since 1972, at Bakshi Ka Talab, about 20 km from Lucknow, where lead characters like Rama, Lakshman and Hanuman are played by Muslim youths, a clear departure in a region known for communal flare-ups; this four-day Ram Lila starts on the day of Dusshera day, and has also been adapted into a Radio play, 'Us Gaon ki Ram Lila', by Lucknow All India Radio, which won the Communal Harmony Award in 2000.[7

Historically it is believed that first Ramlila shows were staged by Megha Bhagat, one of the disciples of Tulsidas, the author of Ramacharitamanas in about 1625 AD, though there are some evidence of its existence in some form before the creation of this version as well. Some scholars believe its first appearance somewhere between 1200 and 1500 AD. Later during in the time of Mughal emperor Akbar, according to some, Akbar is said to have watched a performance. Krishna Das Kaviraj mentions in his 16th century hagiography of saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1533), Chaitanya Charitamrita, that once he got carried away while performing the character of Hanuman at a play in Puri, thus proving the existence of Ramayana plays, before the Ramcharitamanas appeared.[4] Though it would safe to conclude that its implosion into the Hindu heartland, happened only after Tulsidas created his version in people's language of the time, the Avadhi, unlike the original written by Valmiki, in Sanskrit, the language only spoken by Brahmins by then, which excluded much of masses from experiencing the inspirational saga, which is essentially the victory of good over evil.[8]
[edit] Styles of Ramlila

Today, several regions have developed their distinctive form of Ramlila, Uttar Pradesh itself has numerous variants of presentation styles, most prominent among them is that of Ramnagar, Varanasi, staged over multiple venue, the pantomime style is visible in jhankis or tableaux pageants as seem in Ramlila of Varanasi, where colourful Jhankis and pageants depicting scenes from the life of Lord Rama are taken out through the city.[9] According to a 2008 UNESCO report, the most representative Ramlilas are those of Ayodhya, Ramnagar and Varanasi, Vrindavan, Almora, Satna and Madhubani.[5]
An Ramlila actor the traditional attire of Ravana

Next is the operatic style incorporates elements of folk theatre elements generously, while the traditional style remains, where the couplets of Ramacharitmanas not only act as dialogues, but also as chorus as well, and lastly there is the Ramlila staged by professional troupes called "mandalis".[10] Many urban Ramilias now have dialogues written in Khadi Boli or in local dialects, but the treatment remains melodramatic as always to achieve maximum impact amidst an audience that knows the story by heart, but watches the enactment nevertheless for religious fervour and also for its spectacle value, making Ramlila an important event in the religious as well as social calendar of not only in small town and villages but also many big cities. Just other folk theatre form of India, like Jatra of Bengal, topic themes are often interwoven in the script to had relevance and sometimes humour is used to offer a critic or commentary over current happenings.

A unique staging of Ramlila, takes place at Chitrakoot, over five days every year during the last week of February, beginning from the Maha Shivratri day, here the episode of Bharat-Milap is of prime importance, and is watched by eager devotees.[11] The Ram Barat of Agra is another interesting tradition connected with Ramlila, where in during the three festivities, a marriage procession of Rama is taken through various localities of the city.

Delhi holds many prominent Ramlilas across the city, including the oldest one on the Ramlila Grounds, outside the historic Red Fort, it was started in times of Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar,[12] and in 2004, for the first time, Ramlila celebrations organised by Luv-Kush Ramlila Committee were telecast to over 100 countries.[13]
[edit] Ramlila at Ramnagar, Varanasi

The tradition of staging the Ramlila at Ramnagar, Varanasi, which lies across the Ganges river from the Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi, was started in ca 1830 by Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh, Kashi Naresh.[14][15] It rose in popularity during the reign of his successor Maharaj Isvari Prasad Singh, and received continued patronage from the subsequent Kings of the Royal House of Benares to create a participatory environmental theatre (Site-specific theatre) on a grand scale, where attendance ranges from few thousands to 100,000 for others.[16] The Ramlila is a cycle of plays which recounts the epic story of Lord Rama, as told in Ramcharitmanas, the version of the Ramayana penned by Tulsidas. The plays sponsored by the Maharaja, are performed in Ramnagar every evening for 31 days.[15]

Though several local legends exist regarding the beginning of this Ramlila, including one of which suggests that it was first staged at a near by village, Chota Mirzapur as the one at Varanasi was disrupted due to the floods in the Ganges, from where it evolved to the present Ramlila, which is by far the most traditional rendition of the Ramayana, and has been a subject of study by scholars from all over the world for many decades now.[17]

The Ramnagar Ramlila is held over 31 days instead of usual 10, and is known for its lavish sets, dialogues and visual spectacle. Here permanent structures have been built and several temporary structure are also added, which serve as sets, to represent locations like Ashok Vatika, Janakpuri, Panchavati, Lanka etc., during the performance. Hence the entire city turn into a giant open-air set, and audience moves along with the performers with every episode, to the next locale. Preparations begin, weeks before its commencement, even the audition process is traditionally attended to by the Maharaja, where Svarupas, literally divine embodiment, the various characters of the Ramayana, are chosen from amongst local actors. Important roles are often inherited by families, for example, the role of Ravana was held by same family from 1835 to 1990, and roles of Hanuman, Jatayu, and Janaka traditionally belong to one Vyasa family.[18] When the Dussehra festivities are inaugurated with a colourful pageant Kashi Naresh rides an elephant at the head of the procession.[15] Then, resplendent in silk and brocade, he inaugurates the month long folk theatre of Ramlila at Ramnagar.[15] During the period, hundreds of sadhus called 'Ramayanis' descend into the town to watch and recite the Ramcharitmanas text. Many a audience carry a copy of the Ramacharit Manas, simply called Manas, and follow stanza after stanza, after the characters delivering their dialogue.[19][20]

During the course of the performance, there is a double transformation of the space within the city, as it first transforms from a city to theatre and then to mythic geography, as the scale of the performance is gradually increased to mythic proportions, coming down only in the end, when Rama finally returns back home, this is when the Raja himself becomes part of the theatre thereby incorporating local element into the story itself. In the end, as the swarups, actors depart, they take off their garlands and offer it to Royal family members and give darshan to audience, after the performance one last time.[21] At the end of each episode, lila, an aarti is performed, chants of 'Har Har Mahadev' or 'Bolo! Raja Ramchandra ki Jai!' resound in the air, as the audience join in. Thereafter, a jhanki, literally a peep or glimpse, tableaux of frozen iconic moments from the 'Manas', is presented, which not only distill and crystallize the message of the story for the audience, but is also appreciated for its spectacular effect.[21]

On the last day the festivities reach a crescendo as Rama vanquishes the demon king Ravana.[15] Over a million pilgrims arrive annually for the vast processions and performances organized by Kashi Naresh.[22]
[edit] Format
Lead performers of a Ramlila troupe mandali, with the director, called vyasa

Traditionally organized in a makeshift open-air theatre at night, it is usually staged by amateur actors drawn from the same social grouping as the audience. There is often a singer (occasionally a priest) in the sidelines who recites relevant verses from the Ramayana during scene-changes or at moments of dramatic tension. These recitations and the narrative of the play are usually based on Ramacharitamanas, Gosvami Tulsidas' version of the Ramayana, in the Awadhi language, written in 16th century. The dialog is improvised, and often responsive to audience reactions. Dhol drummers and other musicians participate. The atmosphere is usually festive and free, with the audience whistling and commenting as the story proceeds.

In many rural areas, traditional venues for Ramlila have developed over the centuries, and hundreds of people will often make the trip nightly to attend the play. Surrounding areas temporarily transform into bazars to cater to the audience. Depending on the region, interspersed breaks in the play can become impromptu talent shows for local society, and a de facto competition takes place between neighbouring Ram lilas, each vying to stage a more lavish production. Though the play itself is thematically religious, this social aspect often draws in people from non-Hindu segments of the community as well. Performance costs are usually financed by fundraising in the community, often by self-organized Ramlila Committees.
[edit] Geographic spread

Over the centuries, Ramlila has evolved into a highly venerated art form, and has travelled to far corners of the globe, through Indian diaspora, not as acts of "cultural recovery", rather as fresh expressions of a persistent faith. Today, Ramalila is staged in most countries that with immigrant Hindu populations from the Indian subcontinent, including that from India, Nepal and Pakistan. Outside the Indian subcontinent, this includes Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Canada, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain, the United States, and Australia. Some Asian cultures have similar drama traditions based on the Ramayana, for instance the Phra Lak Phra Lam (Lak and Lam are the Laotian names for Lakshman and Ram, respectively) folkplay of Laos and northeastern Thailand.

Ramlila Hope and Hindutva Message of Peace

Last night after shooting the Bengal Club Durgotsav at Shivaji Park, I cut across barefeet to reach the other end of the park where Ramlila is held by the Adarsh Ramila Committee.

I had shot this last year too, and I am grateful to Mr Sundar I Kannar a commitee member who has been extending me total cooperation and has taken a special liking to my pictorial quest of Hope and Hindutva - a message of Peace.

Last year I had shot the Dasshera Burning of Ravan and was approached by a dear friend who blessed me for posting the pictures of it on the net as he could not make it to the venue due to ill health.. this is the holistic healing power of a photo blog..

It cuts across all religion , caste color or creed , and being human being Indian is more important than just being an adherent of a religion..Hindu is not just a Hindu person ..a Muslim too can be messenger and harbinger of Peace as symbolized by the tenets of Hinduism... For me Hinduism or Islam is a state of mind that leads us to our individual goals of Godliness and universal Peace..

That I am able to share all this over 97600 photo blogs that I have posted here at Flickr since July my humble tribute to all those who visit my photo stream..I am indebted to each and everyone of you..

I shot the Ramlila this evening too , much of it backstage , I keep my remaining pictures of the Bengal Club Durgotsav 2009 on hold.. to post this set a long series mind you.

I also wish all my Hindu friends well wishers a very Happy Dasshera.. Good over Evil.,,