The festival of Dussera or Vijayadasham bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu autumn month of Ashvin and as per the western calendar this period falls in October.
Dussehra celebrates the victory of Lord Ram over the demon king of Lanka, Ravana (Ravana was 10 headed). The sacred Indian epic 'Ramayana' mentions the birth of Lord Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu,some ten thousand years ago in Ayodha that belongs to the present day state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Ramlila is generally held in almost every part of India to celebrate the return of Lord Rama from exile for 14 years. On a similar day as Dussehra in Satyug, Ram (the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), is said to have killed Ravan, who had abducted his wife Sita. Ramlila, meaning “Rama’s play”, is a performance of the epic Ramayana in the form of a series of scenes that include song, narration, recital and dialogue. Seeing the Ramlila in open rural surroundings is an experience of a lifetime that cannot be replicated in a theatre even with the best of technology. It originated in Kashi modern day Benaras (Varanasi).It is believed that Ramlila was first staged in about 1625 AD and was based on Ramacharitamanas written by Goswami Tulsidas although some scholars believe Ramlila’s origin to be much older.
Most Ramlila’s in north India are based on the Avadhi version of Ramayana, Ramacharitamanas. The killing of Ravana by Lord Rama is enacted in a beautiful way by local actors, often amateur performers and drawn from the same social grouping as the audience. On the tenth day, the effigy of Ravana is burned, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. The Ramlila brings the whole population together, without distinction of caste, religion or age. Ramlila of Ramnagar is very famous is enacted almost two centuries. Ramnagar is just some kilometers from Varanasi. Other famous Ramlila’s in India are Ayodhya,Vrindavan, Almora, Satna and Madhubani,Chitrakoot and Delhi which is staged on Ramlila Ground outside the historic Red Fort.
Ramlila is not only staged in India,but also in Nepal,Pakistan.Also its performed in places outside Indian subcontinent like Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Guyana,Canada, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain, the United States, and Australia. UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of Ramlila a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.
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