Ramlila Reasi

Romesh Mengi
“Lankesh bta tujhe main kis shaan se maarun, thukraun ya jakhmi karun ya jaan se maarun. Talwar machaltii hai ki main katoon sir uska, kahti hai kamaan vo nahin main baan se maarun, Lankesh bata tujhe main kis shaan se maarun.”( Lord Rama Dialouge)
“Uthte nai hai haath kaelga v hai jal raha , aaj tak shtru par aai na daya , savav badla ya parsa kaat kaat ke sunn ho gya , lagta nahi pata karn hai iska qya”( Parshuram famous dialogue from Sita sayambar scene )
Ramlila at once brings into mind vivid pictures of painted faces, rich costumes, masks, lights, music, and dance. Basically full-fledged entertainment! It also brings along those lovely childhood memories when a Ramlila organized in the locality would be the most exciting happening of our life. It reminds of those days, when daily chores would be quickly dealt with before dusk, so that no scene of the parody is missed. When families would sit huddled together and applaud at every chest-thumping dialogue of Lord Hanumana , Lord Ram, Parshuram and others . When being chosen to play the role of “Parshuram” would elicit utmost reverence from friends , family and others. When Dussehra would be eagerly awaited, for the simple reason that it would be Ramlila time once again!
Ramlila , literally “Rama’s play” , is a performance of the Ramayana epic in the form of a series of scenes that include song, narration, recital and dialogue . It is performed across the whole of northern India during the festival of Dussehra , held each year according to the ritual calendar.
Ramlia is India’s most famous theatrical experience. Historically, this staging of the Ramayana is based on the Ramacharitmanas, one of the most popular sacred text of Hindu religion. Ramacharitmanas was composed by Tulsidas in the sixteenth century. Each day features readings from the Ramayana; in most places plays are presented depicting scenes from the Ramayana story, sometimes on a grand scale
The festival of Ramlila centers around Lord Rama (the Hindu god) and his life as a mortal being on the earth. The ideal human character Rama, is an ideal son, brother, friend, husband and king. Rama accepts a fourteen years exile to enable his father to fulfill his pledge to one of his queen Kakayi. Rama spends a simple, pure and arduous life in deep forest. His life in the forest is full of hardships. His wife Sita is abducted by Ravana in the forest. Rama then gathers an army of monkeys to fight Ravana. He crosses the sea to reach Ravana’s kingdoms and fights to save his wife. After fourteen years he returns to his kingdom Ayodhaya, people celebrated his arrival with lights all around Ayodhaya.
During Ramlila, this story of Rama’s life is enacted to mark his victory over Ravana and his return to his kingdom. The central theme is ”the victory of the good over the evil”. During its performance the Ramayana is constantly recited accompanied by music. It presents a fine blending of music, dance, mime and poetry before an enthusiastic and religious audience sharing every event of the story with the actors.  The Ramlila ends on Vijaya Dashami – the day of victory when Rama defeats the Demon King Ravana. The drama is enacted by young boys and the play ends with Rama shooting burning arrows towards the effigies of Ravana (containing fire crackers) which catches fire and burns marking the end of the evil-Ravana.
The Ramlila brings the whole population together , without distinction of caste , religion or age . The play is also characterized by the spontaneity with which all the locals participate, playing roles or taking part in all kinds of activities involved in the performances, such as making the masks, costumes, doing the the make up, effigies , lights,etc
In families that have traditionally been engaged in these performances, the young members are no longer keen to take over because of the lack of artistic recognition and the limited remuneration. The growth of the mass media and social media , particularly television soap-operas, is leading to a reduction in the normal audience for the Ramlila plays, which are therefore losing their main role of bringing people and different communities together.
The festival of Ramlila ends with Dussehra. It is performed across the whole of northern India during the festival of Dussehra. These Ramlila shows are very popular in Reasi, Udhampur, Jammu and almost all parts of Jammu division.
Established in 1890 in Reasi, the Durga Natak Mandli Reasi has been consistently staging Ramlila all these years at Reasi .
With the efforts of the members, the club has maintained the essence of that period without losing its originality. Carrying on the legacy, not only the club has maintained the legacy of founding fathers but has also been passed on to the third generation.
“The make-up has changed from a hand-made zinc base to now branded cosmetics, the script has  also achanged, the total expenses on the event have increased from some hundred rupees  to  lakhs, today, the costumes have changed from long robes to quite trendy ones, and the rugs of those initial years have been replaced by chairs for the audience. Yes, the club has moved on with time but it has not lost its originality said Sanjeev Khajuria , president Durga Natak Mandli Reasi.
Bhagwan Rama teaches us:
* As a son: Respectfully and lovingly obey your father’s orders. Sacrifice your own comfort for your father’s dignity.
* As a step-son: Even when your step mother (or mother in law…) is not kind to you, even when she clearly discriminates against you in favor of her own birth child, do not resent her, do not fight against her. Respect her and her wishes.
* As a brother: Remain loyal to your brother. Care for him.
* As a husband: Protect your wife. Fight for her protection and her purity. But there are times when one’s divine path must even take precedence over the path of householder. Do not keep the role of householder as the ultimate role.
* As a King: Sacrifice everything for your people. Do not worry about your own comfort, your own convenience or your own pleasure. Be willing to put the Kingdom ahead of your own needs.
The last one should be understood by our leaders.
Let us pledge this time  on this auspicious occasion  to be the best we can be…steadfastly adhering to the tenets of our faith, and instilling those same moral and spiritual values to ourselves and childrens, respect  every women …………
Let us conclude with a famous line
Apne zehen me RAM ko zinda rakhiye,,
Yu putle jalane se RAVAN nahi marta…