Ramalila, One of the most popular festivals of North India is Ramalila. It is celebrated during Dussera. In Ramalila, the life of Rama is shown in the form of a series of plays.
One of the most popular festivals of North India is Ramalila. It is celebrated during Dussera. In Ramalila, the life of Rama is shown in the form of a series of plays.
These plays are staged in open-air theatres at night. The complete life story of Rama is covered in 10 days. Before the play starts, the arati is offered to a copy of ‘Ramacharita Manasa’. The spectators shout ‘Ramachandra ki Jai’. A pundit chants verses and the play begins.
The demons are dressed in black. Rama and Sita wear crowns. On Vijayadasami day, an effigy of Ravana is consigned to flames. It is intended to show that evil will ultimately perish. Then Rama happily returns to Ayodhya and ascends the throne.
Bharat-milap, or the reunion of Bharata with Rama, is another important scene in these plays. People enjoy seeing it. This festival started 400 years ago, soon after the death of Tulsidas, a great Hindi poet. Tulsidas, wrote the ‘Ramacharita Manasa’. He was a great Rama-bhakta.
Tulsidas had a disciple called Megha Bhagat. When Tulsidas died, Bhagat was plunged in grief. Unable to find peace of mind, he went to the temple of Sankat Mochan Hanuman at Varanasi and prayed.
Hanuman told him in a dream: “Bhagat, go to Ayodhya on the banks of the river Sarayu and keep watch.” Bhagat went to Ayodhya and kept chanting Rama’s name. The day after he reached Ayodhya, before day-break, two young hunters came to Bhagat.
One of them gave him a bow and said: “Please hold this for a minute; I shall return soon.” The day passed and night came. Still the two hunters did not turn up. At last Bhagat fell asleep. Rama appeared to him in his dream and said: “It was my brother Lakshmana and I who came to you yesterday!” Bhagat said: “Lord, why did you not tell me who you were?
I would have worshipped you with all my heart!” Rama said: “O Bhagat! It is difficult to see God in person in the Kali Yuga. Go to Varanasi and start enacting my leelas at Nati Imli as described by your master Tulsidas. That will turn people’s minds to me; they will become my devotees. And on the day of Bharat milap, you will have a vision of me!”
Bhagat hurried to Banaras and with the help of some young boys, produced the leelas of Rama at Nati Imli. People who saw them praised him. But while Bharat-milap was in progress, Bhagat was so overcome by excitement that he fell down dead. God had called him as he had promised.
Since then, Ramalila has become a popular festival. To the common people, Ramalila brings entertainment, joy and also spiritual upliftment.
It fosters love of God and man. It also keeps alive an awareness of our Dharma.