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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:
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.
The Republic of Suriname is an independent country located northeastern coast of South America and share borders with French Guiana, Guyana, and Brazil. Hindus are second largest religious group in Suriname and comprise around 22.3% of the total population. In Suriname, like in Trinidad & Taboga, Ramlila was introduced by the Indian immigrants around 150 years ago. In February 2015, it was reported that as part of India’s engagement with Indian diaspora in Suriname, Indian group of Ramila will perform in Suriname and Suriname group will perform in India.
Just like other Caribbean countries, Ramlila practice is well known in Guyana as well. But the regular staging of Ramlila had more or less died down a few decades ago. The practice has now been revived, thanks to Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha. The Sabha revived the Ramlila tradition around 10 years ago and has been continuously striving hard to promote Ramilila performances across the country.
Republic of Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa. It is a multi-ethnic society with Hinduism as the largest religion practiced by around 48.5% of the total population. Mauritius has a very vibrant and long tradition of Ramlila performance. It is also famous for its Ramayana singing on Jhal and Dholak. The Mauritian Ministry of Arts and Culture along with Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation support and encourage Ramlila tradition. Recently, Mauritius also hosted the International Ramayana Conference.
The Kingdom of Cambodia located in Southeast Asia, was once part of the mighty Hindu Khmer kingdom that had ruled for 600 years. Though, it is now primarily a Buddhist country, the Hindu influences are still visible in the country. Cambodia has its own version of Ramayana called ‘Reamker’, wherein Lord Rama is known as ‘Preah Ream’, Sita as ‘Neang Seda’, and Lakshman as ‘Preah Leak’. Reamker is the most popular Khmer literature and its influence extends to art, dance, and theater. Unlike the Ramlila performed in Trinidad and other Caribbean countries where the story is based on Tulasidas’s Ramacharitmanas, the Cambodian Ramlila is based on Reamker, which is again based on Valmiki Ramayana.
The Kingdom of Thailand, which was formerly known as Siam, is another country located in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s national epic is ‘Ramakien’, which is a version of Ramayana adopted from Valmiki, but has an influence of Indian vernacular versions as well. Ramakein has been adopted into widely adopted into art and theater. Thus, Thailand has a rich culture of Ramlila of its own.
Laos is another country in Southeast Asia, where one can witness thriving Ramlila tradition. Though, it is a Buddhist country, Ramayana is quite popular and central to Laos’ culture and tradition. The Laos version of Valmiki Ramayana is called as ‘Phra Lak Phra Ram’,named after Lakshmana and Rama, and is the national epic of the country. Lao legends attribute the introduction of the epic from Angkor. Phra Lak Phra Ram plays a central role in song, dance, painting, sculpture, and theater.
Though Indonesia is a Muslim country, Ramayana runs through the veins of Indonesians. A popular adage in Indonesia goes: ‘“Islam is our religion. Ramayana is our culture.’ Indonesians follow an old Javanese version of Ramayana written in around 9th century called ‘Kakawin Ramayan’. Ramayana plays a central role in Indonesian culture and expressions of art- painting, music, dance, and theater. It has a lively and rich tradition of Ramlila.
The Kingdom of Netherlands is a sovereign country in the Western Europe. The country has more than 100,000 adherents of Hinduism, mostly Indo-Surinamese immigrants who emigrated there from Suriname in 1960’s. These Hindus in the Netherlands have the tradition of Ramlila alive and thriving. The Ramlila performed in Netherlands is usually based on Ramacharitmanas and is usually staged in Hindi or its dialects. In 2015, a Dutch version of Ramlila was also staged.
Republic of Fiji is an archipelago of more than 300 islands in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean with Indian origin Hindus constituting around 28 percent. Fiji has a rich tradition of Ramayana going back to around 130 years. Every settlement have their own ‘Ramayana Mandalis’ that preserve and transmit the culture and values of Ramayana. Fiji was among the eight countries that participated in the first ‘International Ramayan Mela’ held in February 2015 in India.
The Southeast Asian nation of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has a rich tradition of Ramayana. Myanmar’s unofficial national epic called ‘Yama Zatdaw’ is the Myanmar version of Ramayana. Zatdaw literally means ‘acted play’ and Yama refers to Rama. Thus, Yama Zatdaw is the dramatized play of Ramayana. The oral tradition of Ramayana is believed to have been introduced into Myanmar during the reign of King Anawratha, the father of Burmese nation, in the 11th century CE. The performance of the Ramayana play in the Royal courts can be traced to King Bodawpaya who ruled towards the end of the 18th century and early 19th century. Yama Zatdaw plays a very important role in Burmese arts, literature, culture, and tradition.
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Malgudi, a small fictional town in South India has been part of the childhood of most Indians. It is an old, shabby, and peaceful town that is unruffled by politics. The stories set in this small town ring the sense of belongingness in the hearts of its readers. The familiar feeling that feels like home resonates with their soul. And teaches important life lessons to the readers through simple tales. Malgudi Days is one of the books that every Indian child should read. The book is a compilation of 32 short stories that paint a beautiful picture of small-town in India around the '60s and '70s
R. K. Narayan, one of the most well-known and popular writers within India and outside India is the creator of this town and the occurrences of this town. The stories follow the characters Swami and his friends through their everyday lives. Be it the story of fake astrologers who scam and loot the people by his cleverness, or the story of a blind beggar and his dog where the money blinded the man with greed; each story has a lesson to learn, morals and values hidden in it. As the stories are simple, easy to understand yet heart-touching it makes it easy for the kids to connect with each character and imagine the story as if the reader themselves were the protagonist of the story. In simple words, we can say that R.K. Narayan simply told stories of ordinary people trying to live their simple lives in a changing world.
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As written during the Indian Independence movements and finally published in 1943. The stories in the Malgudi days beautifully encapsulated the transitioning milieu of the British era to post-Independence India. Each of the stories portrays a facet of life in Malgudi and simultaneously a life in an Indian town. R.K. Narayan was one of the first writers who pioneered Indian writings in the English language and the book was later republished outside India in 1982 by Penguin Classics. Thus, the book enjoyed a worldwide audience. The New York Times even described the virtue of the book as "everyone in the book seems to have a capacity for responding to the quality of his particular hour. It's an art we need to study and revive."
The beautiful storytelling of the book was assisted by beautiful illustrations allowing the children to let their imagination teleport them to the world of Malgudi. All the illustrations in the book were illustrated by the world-renowned cartoonist, R.K. Laxman who is also R.K. Narayan's younger brother. The illustrations complimented the scenes from the stories and excited the children, keeping them engaged in reading the book for hours.
The illustrations complimented the scenes from the stories.Pixabay
The short stories from Malgudi Days were later adapted into a television adaptation in 1986. This show was directed by actor and director Shankar Nag. It was filmed both in Hindi and English, containing 54 episodes and the first 13 episodes respectively. Later the series was revived for additional 15 episodes. The show featured several popular celebrities from the Kannada film industry of those days – Girish Karnad, Vishnuvardhan, Ananth Nag, Arundhati Nag and Vaishali Kasaravalli, to name a few. The series was premiered on the Doordarshan channel and became the window into the town Malgudi for many. The show did not only excel in its storyline the TV adaptation elevated the storytelling as the show was technically very sound and stood out in its fantastic detailing in terms of locations and sets. With the cinematography being creative The Malgudi days- TV series once again warmed the hearts of both young ones and adults.
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Malgudi- our childhood home
Malgudi days hold a special place in the hearts of whoever has read the book as a child. With the detailed descriptions of the town and stories one almost gets a feeling that they've visited the place themselves. The characters, Swami and his friends feel like they were all readers' childhood friends. The surreal feeling of being home in the world of Malgudi. The world of Malgudi is intimate, warm, lifelike, and engaging. The setting is modern, and the life portrayed in these stories is contemporary. Still, there is an old-time air about It. R K Narayan once described Malgudi as "Malgudi is where we all belong, and where we wish we lived."
Keywords: Malgudi days, Malgudi, R K Narayan, R K Laxman, storytelling, our childhood home Malgudi
Well, if you'll notice then the moon takes twenty-nine days to complete its lunar cycle, whereas women's menstrual cycle is generally 28 days! Coincidence? I think, not.
It is believed that when a woman goes through her menstrual cycle, she goes through the different lunar energies. In fact, in ancient times it was said that the natural rhythm of women was to menstruate under a new moon and ovulate under a full moon.
At the same time, it is also believed that the cycle and its stages are connected to different seasons, namely, spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
Let us see how the lunar cycle is related to a woman's menstrual cycle!
It must be noted that the menstruation period is during the new moon period and also during the winter season. It is said that this is a reflective phase; a phase of silence, introspection, and solitude. During this phase, a woman's body is more sensitive, and so they're able to connect with it and hear the messages it gives. Interestingly, this is also the time when a woman naturally recycles energy as she menstruates, and hence, it's also the for their rest and recovery.
The Crescent moon represents the pre-ovulation period. This is also the season of spring, and so the time corresponds to an increase in physical energy. During this period, a woman's mental strength is at its peak and their thoughts are much clearer. At the same time, emotions are more stable during this period, and because of which women tend to be more social and outgoing.
This phase of the moon represents ovulation, and the season associated with this phase is summer. It must be noted that this period is full of energy and vitality. At the same time, this period plays a significant role in the lives of women because it's actually a fertile phase in all aspects of their life, be it personal or professional. During this period, the self-confidence and self-esteem in women tend to rise, and along with this, an increase in their sex drive can be seen very well.
This phase of the moon represents pre-menstruation, which is also associated with the autumn season. During this period, a woman's physical energy starts to decline. Metaphorically, just like a tree sheds its leaves, a woman, too, feels the need to let go of anything that is not benefiting her. At the same time, memory and the ability to concentrate decrease in this period.
I hope, now you will not think of the moon just as a celestial body, but as a companion in the lives of women!
Keywords: Women pre-Menstruation, Feminine, women Health Fitness, the moon represents the pre-ovulation period, period and moon cycle.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has directed Pak TV channels to stop airing what it calls indecency and intimacy in dramas, Samaa TV reported.
A notification issued by the authority states that it has been receiving numerous complaints from viewers who believe that the content being depicted in dramas does not represent the "true picture of Pakistani society".
"PEMRA finally got something right: Intimacy and affection between married couples isn't 'true depiction of Pakistani society and must not be 'glamourized'. Our 'culture' is control, abuse, and violence, which we must jealously guard against the imposition of such alien values," said Reema Omer, Legal Advisor, South Asia, International Commission of Jurists.
"Hugs, caress scenes, extramarital affairs, vulgar and bold dressing, bed scenes and intimacy of married couples are being glamourized in utter disregard to Islamic teachings and culture of Pakistani society," PEMRA stated, as per the report.
The authority added that it has directed channels time and again to review content with "indecent dressing, controversial and objectionable plots, bed scenes and unnecessary detailing of events".
Most complaints received by the PEMRA Call Centre during September concern drama serial "Juda Huay Kuch is Tarah", which created quite a storm on social media for showing an unwitting married couple as foster siblings in a teaser for an upcoming episode. However, it only turned out to be a family scheme after the full episode aired, but by that time criticism had mounted on HUM TV for using the themes of incest to drive the plot, the report said. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Pakistan, Islam, Serials, Dramas, Culture, Teachings.