Happy Dussehra everyone . Here's a story about the modern Ramleela and its origin. #GrannyTimes says the Varanasi Ramleela is 475 yrs old!
The Chitrakoot ground in Varanasi is where the earliest known Ramleela is believed to have started some 475 years ago. Tulsidas was more than 80 years old when he composed the Ramcharitmanas in Awadhi in the 16th century. Varanasi is the birthplace of the modern Ramleela.
Chitrakoot Ramleela has not stopped since then. Not after the demolition of Babri Masjid or in the wake of the Mandal Commission agitation.
The Banarasi Ramleela was started by Megha Bhagat, a friend and disciple of Tulsidas. It follows the Jhanki style of performance in which each episode lasts a few minutes. “It is not a Ramleela that entertains, but enlightens”.
The Ramleela is promenade theatre, where the actors move from one place to another by foot or chariot. On Bharat Manawan, when Bharat and Shatrughan come to Chitrakoot to plead Ram to return, the action stretches across a kilometre.
On Vijaya Dashami, thousands gather to watch and play as the pushpak viman races around and mock-charges at the crowd. The greatest show is Bharat Milap, so famous that it inspired paintings during the colonial era and continues to draw enough crowds to shut down that corner of the city.
The Chitrakoot Ramleela is also a play outside a play, with fixed roles assigned to different communities. The swaroop are always Brahmin, vegetarian and students of the Vedas. Families have been participating in the Ramleela for five or six generations. It also symbolically accommodates the other great religion of the land. A Muslim man is in charge of the fireworks that are lit every evening around the swaroop. (Source : Indian Express)