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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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By- Salil Gewali
If humanity is hurt, God is hurt.
Religion without compassion might give way to hatred. Compassion with a "self-interest" motive is completely irreligious. But of late, some of the religions have departed from those basic human values. Love and compassion are for only those who follow their "specific" faith. Very sadly, the religions are up as trading commodities in the world of proselytization. Better preachers attract more followers. Of course, no issue if they are not vying for their religious "supremacy". But the ground reality is utterly different. The claim for exclusive supremacy has become the first commandment --- a real bone of contention among the existing religions. In the name of religion, we have polluted our minds. we have corrupted our souls. We have also gone so much astray that God must have now shut his gateway to heaven!
Are we not too foolish to believe in the twenty-first Century --- my God is different and your God different? If the Sun and the Moon are the same for Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, by that simple logic, why is the CREATOR of the infinite cosmos not ONE for all? Is the digestive system in the stomach of a Hindu and a Christian different? The body system secrets the same kind of digestive enzymes to digest the food eaten by people of any faith. One divine power is controlling each of us. It is too outrageous that we bear malice and hostility towards others for God. The paths are different but the destination is the same. One wonders in amazement, why we are so "unscientific" in our approach to the Almighty? Why is there so much bad blood among the different faiths? Truly, our fanaticism and belligerence have become the stumbling block in our understanding of the real teachings of the holy scriptures.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.The recent unprecedented brutal atrocities upon Hindus in Bangladesh during the holy festival of Durga Puja made each of us more anxious. It should also serve as a wake-up call for West Bengal and Assam. How could one's holy place of worship provoke godless hatred in others? If God-believing people nurture animosity for others, then that religion itself has been wrongly understood or misinterpreted. Who all are to blame? Is there any organisation of rectitude that will come up to address this glaring fault line?
Brutal atrocities upon Hindus in Bangladesh during the holy festival of Durga Puja made each of us anxiousFile
All should agree that "tolerance to inhumanity" begets more violence. The act of vandalizing the religious pandals of Hindus in Bangladesh is utterly unpardonable. This calls for serious soul-searching. Who has placed the Holy Koran near the sanctum sanctorum of Hanuman Idol? The investigating agency has found out that it was not by Hindu, but some Iqbal Hossain with wrong intent upon the minority Hindus.
Iqbal Hossain, a Muslim, deliberately placed a copy of the Quran at a Puja Pandal and gave hate speeches against HindusFile
Of course, this act is not at all sacrilegious as understood. One holy mandap and another holy book do not make anything unholy. But the "intention" must be good. It is my personal observation. But this incident, a pre-mediated plan with "wrong motive", has stoked the unprecedented communal violence in Bangladesh. And consequently, many places of worship were desecrated, sacred idols were destroyed, houses and business properties of the minority community were burnt down. Besides the United State, even UN officials condemned this diabolical cruelty against the minority Hindus. Tulsi Gabbard, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, retorted – "God is love, and his true servants embody and manifest that love in this world. It is time for the supposedly secular government of Bangladesh to protect that country's religious minorities from the jihadist forces of hate."
The Hindus in the country are experiencing regular vitriolic attacks from the dogmatic group which is beyond descriptionFile
Hatred for Hindus is not confined to Bangladesh. Even in the home states, Hindus are not at all safe. Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala have become the hotbed of crime and violence against Hindus even then being the majority. The Hindus in the country are experiencing regular vitriolic attacks from the dogmatic group which is beyond description. The silence of the unpatriotic media, and other sinister forces have given enough leverage to such extremist elements. It has been established that madrasas are factories where tender minds are radicalized – the fact is passionately reiterated by an eminent social activist Khalid Umar of Lahore, Pakistan. Just two days ago, one boy in Assam posted a photo in which he placed his foot on a Ganesh idol. Such shocking instances with photos and videos are regularly posted on social media. But such cases are suppressed too soon.
Well, one can't agree more than what Human Right Activist and a senior journalist of Bangladesh – Mr Saad Hammadi has said --- "Such repeated attacks against individuals, and destruction of the homes and places of worship of minorities in Bangladesh over the years show that the state has failed in its duty to protect minorities. Targeting religious sensitivities to stoke communal tension is a serious human rights violation and requires immediate and decisive action from the government to address the situation of minorities in the country."
Here one wishes that all people would stand with Mr Saad Hammadi. The hatred and violence should always be vociferously condemned by one and all. No one has the right to hold humanity to ransom. As believers of GOD, all should shake off narrow dogmatism and malice. All need to follow the path that takes us from darkness to light and ignorance to knowledge. The practice of expressing LOVE and COMPASSION for "all" ---- irrespective of caste, creed, and colour, always ensures communal harmony and peace. Not just that, it is the pathway to DIVINITY. If humanity is hurt, God is hurt.
An India-based writer and researcher, Salil Gewali is best known for his research-based work entitled 'Great Minds on India' that has earned worldwide appreciation. Translated into Twelve languages, his book has been edited by a former NASA scientist – Dr AV Murali of Houston, USA.
By- Your Service
Taking out time for family has become very difficult as people are pretty busy in daily life and find very little time to spend with their loved ones. Planning a family vacation is an excellent way through which the whole family can step away from their daily life and have fun. You can find many destinations for a family vacation, but there is no place that can beat Aruba.
Being a part of the Caribbean islands, Aruba is a great destination to spend quality time with family. A family vacation in the Caribbean is just a fantastic choice as the islands are a great blend of everything that sums up an unforgettable time filled with adventure and fun. Aruba being one of the most beautiful Caribbean islands, is perfect for spending some quality time with family members.
There will never be a boring moment in Aruba as there is a lot to do for the best of vacation time. Be prepared to have the best of time and relaxing times. As you are going on a family vacation, you need to book and plan everything to make sure that you do it online to get the best deals. Enjoy your budget vacation in Aruba with your loved ones. Here are the ten reasons you need to plan your dream family vacation to Aruba.
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1. Beaches Curated for Families & Kids
There are plenty of beaches, in Aruba, and the best one amongst them is Palm Beach and Eagle Beach. Along with your family, you can make the most of your time by spending time on the beach. To make your beach day even more impressive, you must pack some snacks and your favourite drinks.
2. Amazing Outdoor Adventures
You can treat your family to unique outdoor activities in Aruba, such as UTV tour, ATV tour, snorkelling, Catamaran sail, jeep tour, jet skiing, and a lot more only at Around Aruba Tours & Rentals. If your kids love to indulge in some thrilling adventures, then there are many activities from which they can choose.
3. Safest Island
When it comes to family, safety becomes the topmost priority. You don't have to worry about it when you are in Aruba, as this island is regarded as one of the safest islands amongst the other Caribbean islands. You will not face any issues during your family vacation.
4. Best Accommodation for Families
In Aruba, there is a vast range of accommodations to choose from, due to which you can find the perfect pick for small as well as big families. At www.VacationAruba.com you can find amazing Aruba villas for your stay. It is an excellent choice as they are quite reasonable and provide many amenities and facilities. The Aruba villa has great interiors, an outdoor facility, amazing bedrooms, clean bathrooms and huge living space. Aruba Villa Rental are the perfect and luxurious vacation rental for families.
5. Interesting Sightseeing Attractions
There are many sightseeing attractions in Aruba, so you must choose to visit the places you like. You will get to find many fun-filled excursions which you will be able to do that your kids will really enjoy.
6. Rich Culture & Heritage
Family is all about the culture and the heritage that has been running for many years; similarly, the island has a rich culture & heritage which you will love to know. Visit the alluring sightseeing destinations of the island and book a tour so that the tour guide can guide you well. On the guided tour, you will get to listen to many stories related to the places that you will visit. Your kids and other family members will love it.
7. Perfect Fishing Adventure
The fishing adventures are just perfect if you and your family love fishing, so along with them, you can head out to catch all the exotic species. You will get to find such amazing species which you might not get in your home country, and the best part about Aruba is that the water is always brimming with lots of fish to catch. There are many fishing techniques that you can try out, like deep-sea fishing, trolling, fly fishing, and a lot more. After fishing, you can enjoy the catch of the day as there are some restaurants which will serve you.
8. Great Cuisine Options That Fits All
You will find a very wide range of cuisine options in Aruba due to the rich cultural diversity. There are people from different parts of the world who reside in Aruba, due to which you will find your cuisine easily on the island. It is best if you try out the local Aruban cuisine and cocktails, which you will not get anywhere else. Apart from experimenting with food, there is a wide variety of street food as well as fine dining options.
ALSO READ: How Vacations Create Strong Family Bonds
9. Breathtaking Natural Beauty
The natural beauty of Aruba is such that you will just be enchanted by it. You can spend quality time with your family members along with enjoying the breathtaking sights. There are tons of natural wonders that you will love, and the sights are such which you might not find them anywhere else. The incredible beauty of Aruba is what attracts people from all different parts of the world. Plan your days in Aruba in such a way that you are able to visit most of the natural wonders.
10. Snorkeling Fun
By snorkelling in Aruba, you will get to see the exotic species and the marine life of Aruba.Pexels
This activity is something that all of your family members will truly love. By snorkeling in Aruba, you will get to see the exotic species and the marine life of Aruba. Be prepared to get truly mesmerized by the beauty of Aruba. There are many snorkeling spots in Aruba, and everywhere you will have a great experience. You must try out snorkeling at Eagle Beach to get the best experience. The water in Aruba is so clear that you will have a great experience doing snorkeling.
Here were the ten reasons you need to plan your dream family vacation to Aruba. On vacation, remember to make each moment the best when you are in Aruba.
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and includes some commercial links)
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.
The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.
Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.
An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.
"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.
The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.
Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.
The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).
However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.
Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.
Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: NASA, Space, Milky Way galaxy, Solar System, an X-ray telescope.