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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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,
Maa Maha Gauri
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.
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.
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.
Sep 25, 2017: Navratri has great significance in Hinduism and the nine days of Navratri is considered the most auspicious days of the year. The celebration of Navratri comes twice every year and in the two celebrations, young girls are worshiped in Kanjak Puja.
On the ninth day of Navratri, 9 girls are worshiped to please Goddess Durga. One thing to recall is that upon the arrival of Navratri, the young girls of various ages ought to be venerated.
The reason behind worshipping girls of different ages in Kanjak Puja:
The young girl of a 2-year-old young lady is called Kanya and a three-year-old young girl is called Trimurti. By worshiping her, riches, bliss, success increment in the life and all worrisome issues in the family winds up.
The 4-year-old young girl is called Kalyani, by worshiping her, the home remains loaded with joy and thriving, overcoming obstacles.