The Ramnagar Ramlila began on Thursday, September 12. The Kshir Sagar tableau was recreated in Ramnagar pokhra or pond.(HT Photo)
The Ramnagar Ramlila began on Thursday, September 12. The Kshir Sagar tableau was recreated in Ramnagar pokhra or pond.(HT Photo)

Ramnagar Ramlila: All about the 200-yr-old cultural extravaganza

Large number of pepole, including many foreigners, arrive annually to watch the huge processions and performances at Ramnagar Ramlila.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Varanasi
UPDATED ON SEP 14, 2019 11:28 AM IST

The world famous Ramnagar Ramlila – which many consider to be the oldest in the world, being over 200 years old – began in Varanasi on Thursday. Traditionally, it begins on Anant Chaturdashi and continues for 31 days.

From the stage, artistes, sound and light technicians to its sets and decoration, everything is exclusive about this Ramlia. It is known for its lavish sets, dialogues and the visual spectacle. It has been recognised as an intangible world cultural heritage by UNESCO.

The Ramlila is staged in the backdrop of the famous Ramnagar fort, under an open sky and with only traditional lamps (panchlight) being the light source. Young boys play the character of Lord Ram, his brother Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughna. They practice for the Ramlila under the guidance of the priest.

Through all the 31 days, the Ramlila draws a large number of people from Varanasi. They walk to the Ramlila venue daily from the ancient city after crossing the Ganga. It is not uncommon to find foreigners in the audience as many visitors come from far off places to watch the enactment.

Preparations begin almost two months in advance with a team of dedicated people, including priests, looks after the staging of the Ramlila. Even during its enactment, a priest recites couplets from the Ramcharitmanas.

On Thursday, the opening day of the Ramlila, Kshir Sagar Jhanki was recreated in Ramnagar Pokhra (pond). The theme: Lord Vishnu is lying on Shesh Shaiiya and Goddess Laxmi is sitting near him in Kshir Sagar. There was an Akashvani, “I will be reborn as Ram in Raghukul for the elimination of demons”.

As this happened, the audience chanted ‘Sita Ram, Sita Ram’.

On the last day the festivities reach a crescendo as Rama vanquishes the demon king Ravana. Over a million pilgrims arrive annually for the vast processions and performances.

The Ramnagar Ramlila is staged in the backdrop of the famous Ramnagar fort, under an open sky. (HT Photo )
The Ramnagar Ramlila is staged in the backdrop of the famous Ramnagar fort, under an open sky. (HT Photo )

Here are some other interesting facts about the Ramnagar Ramlila:

• In the Ramlila, the entire Ramacharitmanas is recited, instead of the usual 10 for abridged production. In Ramnagar, a number of stages have been constructed by the town, each named after the major sites of events in the Ramayana epic. The permanent structures and several temporary structures serve as sets, to represent locations like Ashok Vatika, Janakpuri, Panchavati, Lanka etc., during the performance. Hence the entire city turns into a giant open-air set, and audience moves along with the performers with every episode, to the next location.

• During the period, hundreds of sadhus, called Ramayanis, descend into the town to watch and recite the Ramcharitmanas text. Many an audience carry a copy of the Ramacharit Manas, simply called Manas, and follow stanza after stanza, after the characters delivering their dialogue. The legend and the festival is a part of their spiritual practice.

• Preparations begin, weeks before its commencement, with important roles often inherited by families, for example, the role of Ravana was held by the same family from 1835 to 1990, and the roles of Hanuman, Jatayu, and Janaka traditionally belong to one Vyasa family.

• 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 home.

• At the end of each episode, 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 distil and crystallise the message of the story for the audience, but is also appreciated for its spectacular effect.

• It is 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.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Former Meghalaya CM Dr Mukul Sangma receiving a report from West Jaintia Hills deputy commissioner Dykes detailing the identified stock of fresh coal identified at the spot.(HT photo)
Former Meghalaya CM Dr Mukul Sangma receiving a report from West Jaintia Hills deputy commissioner Dykes detailing the identified stock of fresh coal identified at the spot.(HT photo)

Ex-CM accuses ruling Meghalaya govt of encouraging illegal coal mining

By HT Correspondent, Shillong
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 12:15 AM IST
  • Sangma said the mineral, weighing truckloads, which were dumped in a scattered manner, were being tallied.
Close
The police have seized two big consignments of Nepalese cigarettes in less than a month in Champawat. (FILE PHOTO) (Image used for representation).
The police have seized two big consignments of Nepalese cigarettes in less than a month in Champawat. (FILE PHOTO) (Image used for representation).

Smuggled Nepalese cigarette brand dominates border areas of Uttarakhand

PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 12:01 AM IST
  • ‘Khukuri’ a brand of Nepalese cigarette has captured the market in the border areas of US Nagar, Champawat and Pithoragarh. Over 90% of smokers prefer to purchase and smoke this not due to taste but its cheap prices, said an official.
Close
Screen grab of a video showing fight between fake buffaloes at a village in Sivasagar district of Assam on Friday.
Screen grab of a video showing fight between fake buffaloes at a village in Sivasagar district of Assam on Friday.

Assam village sets example, holds fake buffalo fight to uphold SC ban

By Utpal Parashar | Edited by Sparshita Saxena
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:58 PM IST
  • In 2016, the Supreme Court had placed a ban on animal fights during religious and cultural festivals.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

After protests, Goa CM announces relocation of IIT project from Melaulim

By Gerard de Souza
PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:47 PM IST
PANAJI: Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant on Friday announced that the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Goa campus that was to be set up at Melaulim village would be shifted to another place in the state
Close
HT Image
HT Image

CBI ‘bribe-for-relief’ racket was running since 2018, finds probe

By Neeraj Chauhan, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:47 PM IST
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has found that a “bribe-for-relief” racket was being run in the agency since 2018 by leaking confidential case related information to some companies being investigated for bank fraud, people familiar with the development said
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Construction work on New Parliament begins

PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:45 PM IST
New Delhi: Construction work on the foundation of the New Parliament building officially began on Friday, officials aware of the development said adding that some of the work had already begun on an alternative site to make up for the delay in the construction
Close
Both day and night also turned pleasant on Friday as temperatures dropped significantly in the city providing relief from week-long heat conditions. The Colaba observatory of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) recorded a minimum temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. (ANI PHOTO).
Both day and night also turned pleasant on Friday as temperatures dropped significantly in the city providing relief from week-long heat conditions. The Colaba observatory of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) recorded a minimum temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. (ANI PHOTO).

Mumbai logs AQI of 190, breathes cleanest air so far this year

PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:44 PM IST
  • Air quality had remained in the poor to very poor category since the beginning of January owing to low temperatures. On January 8, the AQI was the worst at 317 (very poor) for this year.
Close
Satabdi Roy, the three-time Lok Sabha member from Birbhum, told the media that she would fly to Delhi on Saturday. This led to rumours that she would possibly meet Union home minister Amit Shah. (ANI PHOTO).
Satabdi Roy, the three-time Lok Sabha member from Birbhum, told the media that she would fly to Delhi on Saturday. This led to rumours that she would possibly meet Union home minister Amit Shah. (ANI PHOTO).

TMC MP Satabdi Roy voices dissent, Abhishek Banerjee steps in to solve crisis

PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:27 PM IST
  • For the first time, TMC’s youth unit president and chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee stepped in to solve the crisis. He sent party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh to bring Roy to his office on Camac Street in south Kolkata and held a two-hour meeting on Friday.
Close
As many as 97 vaccination centres have been set up for the launch on Saturday.(Reuters)
As many as 97 vaccination centres have been set up for the launch on Saturday.(Reuters)

Woman sanitation worker to get first vaccine jab in Chhattisgarh

PTI
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:23 PM IST
The vaccination drive will cover over 2.67 lakh healthcare personnel and frontline workers in its first phase, state's mission director for the National Health Mission Priyanka Shukla said.
Close
Tezpur: A worker arranges boxes containing Covishield vaccine doses for their dispatch across the Sonitpur district, in Tezpur, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. A countrywide COVID-19 vaccination drive is set to rollout from January 16, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_15_2021_000220B)(PTI)
Tezpur: A worker arranges boxes containing Covishield vaccine doses for their dispatch across the Sonitpur district, in Tezpur, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. A countrywide COVID-19 vaccination drive is set to rollout from January 16, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_15_2021_000220B)(PTI)

Is Covid-19 vaccine mandatory?: All your FAQs about vaccination drive answered

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shivani
PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:00 PM IST
Healthcare workers, both in government and private sectors including Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase, the health ministry said in a statement.
Close
Union home minister Amit Shah is scheduled to attend programmes in Bengal on January 30 and 31. The party also wants to plan a rally to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming weeks. (ANI FILE PHOTO).
Union home minister Amit Shah is scheduled to attend programmes in Bengal on January 30 and 31. The party also wants to plan a rally to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming weeks. (ANI FILE PHOTO).

Bengal BJP leaders meet Amit Shah in Delhi, discuss poll preparedness

UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 10:56 PM IST
  • To meet Shah’s target of winning more than 200 of Bengal’s 294 assembly seats in 2021, the BJP has put together its biggest election machinery in the eastern state.
Close
The standoff between India and China along the LAC in Ladakh has entered its seventh month.(Representative Photo)
The standoff between India and China along the LAC in Ladakh has entered its seventh month.(Representative Photo)

Ladakh soldiers among first set of army personnel to get Covid-19 vaccine

UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:29 PM IST
  • More than 12,000 doses of the vaccine have reached Ladakh of which around 4,000 have been earmarked for armed forces personnel to protect them from Covid-19, the officials said speaking on condition of anonymity.
Close
Odisha health workers who under the banner of Odisha State Male and Female Multipurpose Health Workers'/Health Supervisors’ United Association.(HT Photo)
Odisha health workers who under the banner of Odisha State Male and Female Multipurpose Health Workers'/Health Supervisors’ United Association.(HT Photo)

Thousands of Odisha's healthcare workers say no to Covid-19 vaccine, here's why

By Debabrata Mohanty, Bhubaneswar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2021 09:54 PM IST
  • MPW workers demand promotion and cadre-restructuring.
Close
Choudhury also blamed the Trinamool Congress for allowing the BJP to strengthen its base in the state.(Sanjeev Verma/ Hindustan Times)
Choudhury also blamed the Trinamool Congress for allowing the BJP to strengthen its base in the state.(Sanjeev Verma/ Hindustan Times)

Join Congress to defeat BJP: Adhir Ranjan repeats invite to Mamata Banerjee

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 09:49 PM IST
  • Choudhury's comments came after the TMC had on Wednesday said the Congress and the Left should support Banerjee in her fight against the BJP, a suggestion rejected by the two parties.
Close
Union minister for telecommunications Ravi Shankar Prasad.(ANI)
Union minister for telecommunications Ravi Shankar Prasad.(ANI)

News updates from HT: India-Japan to cooperate in field of 5G, smart cities

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 08:58 PM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP