Ramnagar Ramlila
Thousands of Ramlila are given all over north india during the month of October, based on the Tulsi Das « Ramayana », one of Hindu holy epic. Basically an enactment of History, it is presented as a cycle-play varying from 7 to 31 days. The Ramlila performance developp a festive atmosphere in wich religious rites are performed. It is also rich in crafts such as costume jewellery, masks, headgear, effigy, make-up and decoration.

Ramnagar, 15 km. from Varanasi presents the Ramlila started by the erstwhile Maharaja of Kashi in the most traditional style. The only one in India were performances last for 31 days, marked by detailed dialogues and impressive enactments. Hundreds of sadhus come to Ramnagar to watch and recite the epic. Permanent structures are built and spaces designated to represent the main locales of the story i.e. Ashok Vatika, Janakpuri, Panchvati, Lanka etc. transforming the whole township into a vast Ramlila ground. The audience move along with the performers with every episode. To maintain the authenticity character of the Ramlila, electric lights, mikes and loudspeakers are not used, though the average audience is rarely less than ten thousand.

Abstract from « New york times.com : A Maharajah's Festival for Body and Soul
November 26, 2000

« Ramayana means Rama's journey, and Ramlila suggests this
journey literally. There are no seats. People sit on the ground, stand, watch from rooftops or perch on walls. When
the action calls for it, the crowd moves from one location to another.

Following in Rama's footsteps is fundamental to Ramlila. This movement is a kind of pilgrimage, a worship-in-action.

The festival itself transforms an area of many square miles. Some of the stages are enclosures in the middle of
the town, others are deep in what was once forest and jungle, or on grassy hillsides and in open fields, or amid
large gardens of fragrant blooming trees and temples and marble gazebos built by former maharajahs. For one scene, the stage is the Maharajah's own palace, known as the Fort,
which it really once was.

Each episode is called a lila. On most days, Ramlila begins at 5 p.m. and continues until 10 at night. Some episodes last late into the evening and one, Rama's coronation, does
not end until dawn. »

Lila means « play, sport »,
in the sens of « divine play » :
human world is there
for entertaining the gods,
laughing from our
minus great adventures, misadventures…
Just another way
of considering reality.

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