The Ramlila at Ramnagar (Benaras) is a unique theatrical and religious event, a month long enactment of the Ramayana story which is now an annual tradition. The performance covers a whole town and involves an entire community from its Maharaja to its thousands of common people. Men, women and children follow the course of the processional performance, accompanying Rama from his exile to his triumphant return to Ayodhya to partake of the joy and glory of Ramarajya.
Readers are plunged into the rich and lively experience of the Ramlila with its svarupas, effigies, masks, Ramayanis, Vyasas, gods, goddesses, demons and monkeys with its theatrical glimmickry and spectacle and marvels; with its thronging, surging crowds. Performers and spectators are part of a seamless ceremony; and the readers re-live this whole experience through the vivid pages of Anuradha Kapur's diaries. The work does many things at the same time. It documents and recreates an event; provides a rare insight into an Indian community's negotiation with religious lore; unravels and explores a unique theatrical tradition; and above all offers us an piece of life - earthy, rumbustious, and sacred.
About the Author:
Anuradha Kapur, theatre scholar and director, is a professor at the National School of Drama.
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