Ramayana is the oldest Indian epic, encompassing 24, 000 lyrical verses, and remains the corner stone of Indian spiritual traditions. As a composite cultural and life ways ritual, Ramlila, dedicated to the life and deeds of Lord Rama, has served the purpose of devotional worship, sacrificial offering, eulogy, meditative experience and immersive communion. Ramlila of Northern India is based on the great Hindi version of the epic ‘Ramacharita Manasa’ penned by Tulsidas. The IGNCA has made this documentary for the Ministry of Culture, Government of India for presentation to the UNESCO, which has designated Ramlila as a Masterpiece of oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The film highlights the Ramlila of Ramnagar, apart from Ramlila traditions of Avadh, Braj and Madhubani.
During Ramlila celebrations the whole town of Ramanagar is transformed into a sacred landscape and a stage, where 20, 000 odd viewers move with actors to witness the sacred play, which goes on for 31 days. The ruler of Ramnagar arrives on elephant back before the performance beings. Young Rama arrives on an elder’s shoulder. The audience carries a copy of the Ramacharit Manas, and follows stanza after stanza, after the characters delivering their dialogue.
The film explores the mythological and linguistic nuances of Ramlila at Ayodhya as a blend of Braja, Madhubani region and Avadh Dialect. It presents the dynamics of dramatized orality to showcase India’s Intangible Heritage.