Ram Leela of Ramnagar

Locations: Ramnagar

When: During the month of September or October or November.

Highlights

Ram Leela is a popular re-enactment of the mythological epic as described in Rama Charita Manas. Ramlila at Ramnagar is sponsored by Kashi Naresh and performed in Ramnagar every evening for 31 days. On the last day of Ram-Leela, Rama vanquishes the demon king Ravana. Kashi Naresh Udit Narayan Singh had started the tradition of Ram-Leela in 1830. Ram-Leela celebration forms an integral part of the cultural life of the Hindi-speaking belt of India. It is believed that the great saint Tulsidas started the tradition of Ram-Leela, the enactment of the story of Lord Ram. The Ram Charita Manas, written by him, forms the basis of Ram-Leela performances till today. Ramnagar Ram Leela is enacted in the most traditional style. Hundreds of Sadhus called the 'Ramayanis' come to watch and recite the Ramayana. Jhankis and pageants depicting scenes from the life of lord Rama are also taken out. Some of the episodes of the Ram Leela are witnessed with great interest.

Usually, Ram-Leela is enacted on a single stage but Ramnagar Ram-Leela stands distinct in the terms of sets because the Ram-Leela of Ramnagar is performed on multiple sets. Here, almost the whole town is transformed into a vast Ram-Leela ground as permanent structures are built and spaces designated to represent the main locations of the story. For example they have Ashok Vatika, Lanka, Janakpuri, Panchvati etc as various locations in the Varanasi. The audience moves along with the performers with every episode, to the next location. The most amazing thing about Ram-Leela of Ramnagar is its sober character. It is surprising to note that electric lights, mikes and loudspeakers are hardly used in the performances, even when the audience number is in thousands. The greatest attraction is the serious characters of the Ram Leela. If there is any art form in India that has been unaffected by the onslaught of technology, it is this.