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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Ramnagar’s Ramleela: Thousands of spectators walk together


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Without the use of modern lighting, microphones, and a decorated stage, Ramnagar’s Ramleela is organized under petromax lights among its spectators. Not a single electric gadget is used, and all the characters deliver their dialogues in loud voices. The location is changed every day, and this Ramleela takes place in 16 different locations across a total area of 10 KM. This year, Ramnagar’s Ramleela began on September 9th and will continue till October 9th.

The Ramleela continues in Ramnagar’s Rambagh, Ayodhya Maidan, Lanka Maidan, Panchvati, Pampa Sheher, Janakpur, Nandigram, Sagra Bhardwaj Muni Ashram, Rampur Nishadraj Ashram, Rampur Sudikshar Muni Ashram, Rambagh Ksheer Sagar, Stabal, Kabristan, Ramnagar Chowk, and Bataubeer, and the spectators move along.

And while thousands of spectators go to enjoy the Ramleela, the voices of only the artists echo. Not only spectators from India, but thousands of spectators from outside the country are reaching to watch the month-long Ramleela of Varanasi’s Ramnagar. Ramnagar’s Ramleela was started back in the year 1806 and this year, it is being organized for the 217th time. This is Kashi’s fifth oldest Ramleela.

Apart from the two years amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ramleela takes place every year from Anant Chaturdashi to Sharad Purnima, from 5 PM to 9 PM. During the pandemic, only symbolic Ramleela and arti had taken place. 40 to 50 thousand spectators are reaching to watch the Ramleela, and like every other year, thousands of Muslims are also visiting to watch the shows. The Ramleela was commenced by the royal family, and therefore, the Ramleela begins only after someone from the royal family arrives.

Interestingly, in Ramnagar’s Ramleela, the roles of Dashrath, Ravan, Parashuram, and Vibhishan are being played by members of the same family for the last 8 generations.

During the reign of Kashi’s ruler, Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh, the district magistrate was James Prinsep. James, in his book, ‘News of Banaras’, has elaborately described Ramnagar’s Ramleela, and this is its historical written evidence.

Sonakshi Datta
Sonakshi Datta
Journalist who wants to cover the truth which others look the other way from.

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