Ramlila: Eleven countries where Ramayana enactment tradition is thriving

Ramlila (Ramleela) is held in many countries outside India

A scene from Ramlila in Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

By Nithin Sridhar

Lord Rama occupies a very unique space in the psyche of Hindus. He is considered as the personification of Dharma (righteousness) and an ideal man. The story of his life (i.e. Ramayana) have been spoken, song, dramatized and celebrated in various other ways for many centuries.

Ramlila’ or ‘Rama’s play’ is one such dramatized folk enactment of Lord Ram’s life that celebrates his incarnation on earth.

It is performed every year during the month of October or November on the occasion of Dusshera. The folk enactment of Ramlila not only serves as a medium for people to connect with their beloved Lord Ram, but also serves as a platform for various artists to exhibit their creativity.

Historically, the enactment of Ramlila, as witnessed today in India, can be traced back to the 16th century, when Tulasidas composed Ramacharitmanas in Awadhi language, though there are evidences for the presence of some form of staged performances of Ramayana even before that time. In 2005, UNESCO declared the tradition of Ramlila as among the ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’.

The enactment of Ramlila is mostly predominant within North India and performances in Ayodhya, Benares, Vrindavan, Almora, and Sattna are especially famous. But, Ramlila enactment is not limited to India. Just as Hindus have spread across the world over the last 2 centuries, the celebration of Ramlila has also spread along with them.

Here is a list of Eleven countries where Ramlila performances are staged:


1. Trinidad & Tobago

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago consists of two islands and is located just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela in the South American continent. Ramlila entered into the twin-island country when indentured immigrants were brought into the country from India 1845. The earliest record of Ramlila celebration in Trinidad goes back to 1881 in Dow Village. Recently, in 2012, ‘The National Ramlila Council of Trinidad and Tobago’(NRCTT) was made into the main representative body for Ramlila in the twin-island country, through an act of Parliament.

Ramlila performance organized by NRCTT at Trinidad & Tobago. Photo: www.nrctt.org
  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Commendable coverage of folk traditional Ramayan play in 11 countries.If we Love Ramayan we need to ask ourself, whether we follow Lord Rama commitment,sacrifice and ideals ? In the era that made Ramayan popular the farmer the food grower was flourishing why ? there were three harvest and he had the right to decent living.Today in the capitalist system controlled by few the farmer works harder but has no decent living.