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Ramlila: Theatre Portray of the Life of Lord Rama draws huge Crowd In Delhi

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ramlila
Source: Wikimedia Common

New Delhi, September 23, 2017: Ramlila is the most popular dramatic play, which involves the enactment, narration and music depicting the scenes of mythological epic Ramayana. It is also one of the most oldest form of theatre, which tells the story Lord Rama and the event that happened in his life. In 2008, UNESCO declared Ramlila as the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.

Ramlila, since time immemorial is popular among Hindus for its unique and creative way of storytelling. Rama is considered to be the manifestation of Hindu preserver god, Lord Vishnu and the story of Ramlila revolves around his life. The performances in these acts are totally based on the ethical values as depicted in the Ramayana and the life episodes of Lord Rama.

One of the oldest theatre group, Luv Kush Ramlila Committee (LKRC) is one of those, who have kept this art alive. They showcase Ramlila every year in Red fort

The act starts from the very first day of nine-day Navratri festival and concludes on the tenth day, popularly known as Dussehra. This day witnessed the legendary war between Rama and Ravana, marking the victory of good over evil.

This year, the group has involved around 50 film and television actor, depicting various characters in Ramayana to fascinate the audience.

Spicing up the regular act, this year the theatre group has also shed ligh on some social issues.  This year the role of Rama and Lakshman will shed light on the eve teasing and casteism.

ALSO READ: Ramayana : 6 Timeless Management Lessons From the Ancient Hindu Text that You Must Imbibe

In eastern India the event signifies the victory of the Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon Mahishasura.

Every year Ramlila, through the art of storytelling entertains, educates and motivates the young generation to choose the path of truth.

Prepared by Abhishek Biswas of NewsGram Twitter: @Writing_desire

 

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Ever Wondered what do Ancient Sites mentioned in Ramayana look like? Visit these Ramayana Destinations to know!

Visit these Ramayana destinations the first chance you get, to feel closer to your roots.

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Ramayana destinations
Ramayana is not just a story, it is a way of life which has been guiding believers and non-believers for centuries about the right way to live on this planet. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 8, 2017 : Ramayana is not just a story, it is a way of life which has been guiding believers and non-believers for centuries about the right way to live on this planet. I can confidently vouch that we have all heard stories from Ramayana at one point in our life. Ramayana is not just a story, it is an indispensable part of the Hindu religious law.

There exist innumerable arguments questioning the authenticity of Ramayana. While it is almost impossible to prove or disapprove anything, what is feasible is to trace the chronology of events, focusing on various Ramayana destinations that can still be visited to experience the ethereal world that is believed to have existed in the Treta Yug.

Here is a list of ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana.

You can plan a trip to these Ramayana destinations to feel closer to Him, and personally experience what we have all grown up reading and hearing about.

  1. Janakpur

Mention in Ramayana

First on our list of Ramayana destinations is Janakpur. A key phase took place at Janakpur, one of the many other Ramayana destinations. The ancient city of Mithila, as it was previously called, was home to Sita, where she lived till her marriage.

Legend has it that to get rid of a devastating drought, the King of Janak ploughed the land in Janakpur when he stumbled upon an earthen pot out of which Sita emerged. This also explains why the place is also known as Sitamarhi.

King Janak brought the child back to the palace at Mithila, where she grew up and was married to Ram.

The Ramayana explains Mithila as a ‘divya-bhumi’, a sacred land that pulled Ram to it.

Visiting Janakpur

A small town in Nepal, you are sure to come across compelling stories of Sita (or Janaki) infused in the landscapes, temples and the people of Janakpur.

Sita’s  swayamvar, the ceremony which saw participation of learned men from all big and small territories, took place at Rangbhoomi. It was in this ceremony that Shiva’s bow was broken into pieces by Ram.

Dhanush Sagar is a tank on the area where a piece of the bow of Shiva, broken by Ram in an attempt to win Sita’s hand, had fallen. Another piece is believed to have fallen at some distance, now known by the name Ratan Sagar. And the third piece is believed to have fallen in Dhanusha, 15 km away from Janakpur.

Ramayana destinations
Dhanush Sagar in Nepal. Wikimedia

Visitors can also visit the Ram-Sita vivah mandapa, which has been made in Janakpur.

Multiple devotees flock Janakpur every year o pray and pay homage to Sita during Vivah Panchami, the day Ram and Sita are believed to have got married. The quaint little town also witnesses tourists on Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Ram.

How To Reach Janakpur

Janakpur is one of the ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana, only a few km from the Indian border and can be reached by flight, train or via road.

Travelers can fly to Kathmandu and take a smaller airline to Janakpur. However, make sure you check flight availability beforehand as they only ply a few times in a week.

Otherwise, one can also visit Janakpur via buses.

  1. Chitrakoot

Mention in Ramayana

Next on our list of Ramayana destinations is Chitrakoot. It is one of the most intricately explained Ramayana destinations. Upon being banished from the royal palace, it was here that Lord Ram, accompanied by wife Sita and brother Lakshmana spent eleven of their 14 years of exile (vanvas).

Ramayana also mentions of Bharat who came to Chitrakoot to persuade his brother Ram to return to Ayodhya. It was also here that Ram performed the last rites of his father, King Dasharatha in presence of all gods and goddesses.

Chitrakoot’s peaceful environment also acted as a source of inspiration for the great poet Goswami Tulsidas to pen the Ramcharitmanas, retelling the life of Lord Ram in Awadhi.

Visiting Chitrakoot

Nestled between the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Chitrakoot has a breathtaking location with a tranquil aura.

Quick fact : ‘Chitra’ means a beautiful painting and ‘Kuta’ means mountains.

While all ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana hold spiritual transcendence, located along the Mandakini River, the sacred city of Chitrakoot is particularly known as a centre for spiritual enlightenment, and is a potpourri of devotion, legend and traditions.

Pilgrims can visit the Bharat Milap Mandir, where Bharat visited elder brother Ramand requested him to return to Ayodhya to claim his rightful throne. Upon his refusal, Bharat took his khadau (slippers) with him to the palace to place on the throne until Ram returned to the kingdom after 14 years.

Located on the Kamdagiri Hills near the temple premise, there exist engraved footprints of Ram and his brothers that are worshipped till date.

Located at the centre of the town is Ramghat where Ram used to take a dip in the mighty Mandakini river. This also happens to be the place where Tulsidas met Ram and Lakshmana.

Ramayana destinations
Ramghat in Chitrakoot. Wikimedia

Legend has it that Tulsidas was making sandalwood paste when the two brothers disguised as two kids approached him and asked him to apply a tilak on their forehead too. Not knowing the boys were really God, the poet made the tilak. It was Hanuman who helped Tulsidas recognize the brothers by reciting the famous verse,

“Chitrakoot ke ghaat pai bhai santan ki bheer,

Tulsidas chandan ghise tilak det Raghubeer.”

One can also visit the Gupt Godavari caves at a distance of 18 km, where inside the saves stand two natural throne-like rocks where Ram and Lakshmana sat during their stay.

How To Reach Chitrakoot

You can take a flight to Khajuraho, from where buses and taxis operate. The nearest railway station is Chitrakoot Dham. You can also choose to take the road to reach Chitrakoot.

3. Panchvati, Nasik

Mention in Ramayana

Third on our list of Ramayana destinations is Nasik. During his exile years, Lord Rama, accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana moved from one place to another, to find tranquility in nature and feel closer to the natural way of life. After staying in Chitrakoot for eleven years, the next Ramayana destination was Nasik where they spent a significant amount of time.

Their hut was built in Panchvati, which is famous for its five huge Banyan trees and is only 4 km away from Nasik.

Located on the banks of the Godavari, it was in Nasik that Lord Rama and Lakshmana had an encounter with Surpanakha, Ravana’s younger sister, where consequently her nose was cut off. This explains the rationale behind the name of the place. (Nasika means nose in Sanskrit)

To avenge the disrespect faced by his sister, it was from here that Ravana abducted Sita and flew her to Lanka on his Pushpak Vimaan. Needless to say, it was here where Lakshmana drew the ‘Lakshmana Rekha’,.

Visiting Nasik

The Kala Ram Mandir in Panchvati, Nasik is believed to have been built right where Lord Rama’s kuti (hut) was built.

Ramayana destinations
Kalaram temple in Nasik. Wikimedia

Nasik’s Rama Kunda is the chief pilgrimage place in Nasik. The Kunda is primarily a tank where Lord Rama and Sita allegedly bathe. This makes the tank extremely sacred.

The Rama Kund is also known Asthi Vilaya Tirtha, because human bones are known to dissolve here. Legend has it that Lord Rama performed funeral rites at the Kund in memory of His deceased father, King Dasharatha.

How To Reach Nasik

Nasik is very well connected via air, trains and road.

Panchvati is only 4.2 km away from Nasik and can be easily reached through road.

4. Kishkindha, Hampi

Mention in Ramayana

Next on our list of Ramayana destinations is Kishkindha. Marked by dense forests, huge rocks and the Tungabhadra river, Karnataka’s Hampi can be mapped to Ramayana’s Kishkindha, one of the most active Ramayana destinations.

In the forests of Dandak, Kishkindha was the kingdom of the Vanara king Bali.

It was in the forests of Kishkindha where Lord Rama met Hanuman.

After Sita was abducted by Ravana, Lord Ram had first entered the kingdom of apes looking for her, along with Lakshmana.

After a fight between the two monkey kings, Sugriva and Bali, Sugriva took refuge on the Matanga mountain along with Hanuman. Lord Rama had killed Bali and helped Sugriva win the throne. The brothers then stayed in Kishkindha awaiting results of Hanuman’s search for Sita.

Sugriva’s army of apes also pledged their support to Lord Ram here and hence came into being his army against Ravana.

Visiting Kishkindha

Ramayana clearly traces the roots of Kishkindha to the Tungabhadra river, which till date is counted among some of the major rivers of Karnataka.

One of the many ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana, the region along the river near Hampi in Karnataka is identified as Kishkindha from Ramayana.

Ramayana destinations
Kishkindha mountain. Wikimedia

Hampi has a culturally rich past and has much more to offer to visitors. However, for those of you looking to trace Ramayana’s trajectory, this place will not disappoint you.

Tara Mountain near Hampi is named after Bali’s wife, who had been saved by the monkey kind from demons.

As per Ramayana, Sugriva had taken refuge inside the Rishyamuk mountain. Legend has it that Bali had been cursed by a saint, who said the monkey king would perish if he entered the mountain. Thus, to save his life, Sugriva took refuge inside this mountain.

Pilgrims can also visit Nidapuram where a huge mound of scorched ash remains and is believed to be the cremated remains of Bali.

A little to the north-west lie the Anjanadri mountain, which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, who lived here with his parents, Kesari and Anjani.

The mountain has been named after Hanuman himself, who was called Anjaneya.

Quick fact : You will have to climb 550 stairs to reach to the ancient Hanuman temple situated on this mountain.

How To Reach Kishkindha

Hampi is at a distance of 330 km from Goa and can make for a comfortable road trip. The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction which is merely 13 km away. The station is well connected with trains, and roads. You can also avail the bus services by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation

While it cannot be confirmed that everything we know about Ramayana took place as we know of it. However, these Ramayana destinations continue to exist till date and prove that they may just have transpired in reality.

Visit these Ramayana destinations the first chance you get, to feel closer to your roots.

 

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.

 

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Celebration of the Devi Shakti : Maha Navmi | Worship Goddess Siddhidhatri on the Ninth Day of Navratri

Navratri is celebrated to honor and glorify the spirit of Goddess Durga, also known as the Devi Shakti inside us

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Maha Navmi
During Navratri celebrations, devout Hindus honor the existence, presence and power of the Devi Shakti. Pixabay

New Delhi, September 29, 2017 : The last eight days have witnessed immense zeal and fervor among devotees who got together to celebrate Sharad Navratri and honor the nine auspicious nights of goddess Durga. According to the Hindu dharma, there are four Navratris in one year; however, only two of them are celebrated in a magnificent way, one of them being Sharad Navratri. This year, the festival was observed from September 21– 29. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.

Why do we celebrate Navratri?

‘Nav’ means ‘nine’ and ‘ratri’ means ‘night’. Thus, ‘Navratri’ means the festival of the ‘nine nights’.

Navratri is celebrated to honor and glorify the spirit of Goddess Durga, also known as the Devi Shakti inside us. It is popularly believed that this spirit alone can help us destroy all negative traits like obsession, pride and aversions.

By turning to the Devi during Navratri, and getting in touch with her spirit in us, devotees attempt to overcome these negative qualities and invoke positive tendencies.

Celebration of the Devi Shakti

Shakti translates to energy and the Devi (goddess) of Shakti in the Hindu dharma is revered as the primitive source of energy that maintains and sustains all forms on creation of the earth.

The Devi Shakti, or the feminine spirit, manifests itself in multiple forms, nine of which are worshiped during the Navratri.

Each form of the goddess encompasses and supplements traits such as strength, beauty, compassion, , power, fear and transformation. Thus, during Navratri celebrations, devout Hindus honor the existence, presence and power of the Devi Shakti.

Maha Navmi
Nine firms of the Devi Shakti are worshiped during the Navratri. IANS

The Different Avatars of Durga

The nine nights of Navratri celebrate and honor the nine different aspects of Mother Divine on each day, known as Nava Durga. These are,

  1. Maa Shailaputri
  2. Maa Brahmacharini
  3. Maa Chandraghanta
  4. Maa Kushmanda
  5. Maa Skandamata
  6. Maa Kathyayini
  7. Maa Kaalaratri
  8. Maa Maha Gauri
  9. Maa Siddhidhatri

Day 9 of Navratri : Maha Navmi

The ninth and the final day of worship before Vijaya Dashami is known as Navmi, also known as Maha Navmi. This marks the end of the Sharad Navratri.

ALSO READ Get Your Home Festive Ready for Dussehra and Diwali!

Spiritual Significance of Maha Navmi

According to the Hindu mythology, goddess Durga fought the king of demons, Mahishasur for nine consecutive days. The ninth day is the absolute day when the goddess’ power, righteousness, and wisdom won over the evil forces.

On this day, the ninth avatar of goddess Durga is worshiped – Maa Siddhidhatri.

Ninth form of Durga – Maa Siddhidhatri

It is believed that goddess Durga’s manifestation in his form happened upon entering the body of Lord Shiva and assuming the left half of it.

Maa Siddhidhatri sits on a red lotus and is also seen riding a lion at times. The goddess has a mace, conch, and a lotus in her four hands.

Ruling over the planet Ketu, Maa Siddhidhatri governs the minds of people and motivates them towards a disciplined and spiritual life. Devotees believe worshiping this avatar of goddess Durga leads them on a path of self-exploration and higher spiritual knowledge.

Maha Navmi
9 Forms of Durga. Pixabay

Goddess Siddhidhatri is believed to bring fulfillment and totality in every sphere of life, which is why devout Hindus celebrate the last day of Navratri to please and pray to the goddess.

Rituals of Maha Navmi

  • In many parts of North and East India, Kanya Puja or Kanjak is observed on Maha Navmi. Following the rituals, nine young girls are worshiped as the nine avatars of goddess Durga. Following the puja which includes chanting various mantras and lighting incense sticks, the kanjaks are fed food specially prepared for them. They are also presented with gifts as tokens of respect and love.
  • In eastern India, Maha Navmi is synonymous with the third day of Durga Puja. The celebrations begin with a holy bath and are followed by the Shodhasopachar puja. On this day, the goddess is worshipped in the avatar of the goddess who killed Mahishasur, Mahishasuramardini.
  • In several parts of Southern India, many children begin preparing for their academic year from this day.

ALSO READ Significance of Kanjak Puja in Navratri, What Each Age Group of Young Girls Depicts?

Color for the day : Purple

Navratri Ninth Day Maa Siddhidhatri Mantras

“Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah”

and

“Om Devi Siddhidatryayi Namah Siddha Gandharva Yakshdyairasurairamarairapi

Sevyamaanaa Sadabhuyaat Siddhida Siddhidayini”