Ahead of Dussehra Festival, Epic Hindu Folklore Play ‘Ramlila’ Opens to 'Phygital' Audience

© SputnikArtists rehearsing the play 'Ramleela' before going live tonight in Phygital format
Artists rehearsing the play 'Ramleela' before going live tonight in Phygital format - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.10.2021
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‘Ramleela’ is a nine-day-long play that re-enacts the life of Lord Rama and how he rescued his wife, the Goddess Sita, who gets kidnapped by the demon king Ravana. The legendary war and the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana is celebrated on the 10th day of the festivities as the ‘Dussehra’ festival.
The stage is all set for the grand opening of a 10-day ‘Ramlila’, a mythological play, that will unfold Lord Rama's journey of life, narrating how he once defeated the Demon King Ravana, which is celebrated as a victory of good over evil on the last day as an effigy-burning festival: Dussehra.
The dramatic enactment will be based on the Hindu holy textbook ‘Ramcharitmanas’, considered to be one of the greatest works in Hindi literature, by 16th-century saint-poet Tulsidas.
Today is also when the holiday season begins in India, with the onset of the Navratri, or nine-day worship of Hindu Goddess Durga and her nine incarnations.
In Delhi, the city's popular Lav Kush Ramlila Committee and artists will bring alive the legendary mythological tale of Ramleela in phygital (a live event with a limited audience and streaming live worldwide) format this time.
© SputnikArtists rehearsing the play 'Ramleela' before going live tonight in Phygital format
Artists rehearsing the play 'Ramleela' before going live tonight in Phygital format - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.10.2021
Artists rehearsing the play 'Ramleela' before going live tonight in Phygital format
As the Delhi government has allowed the live Ramleela event to be organised for the public amid social distancing and limited entry at Old Delhi’s historical Red Fort site from 6 pm to 12 am every day, the organisers are going digital in a big way, with live streaming of the stage play on various social media platform, websites, and TV channels.
Actor Gagan Malik, who has been playing the lead role of Lord Rama for the past three years in popular Lav Kush Ramlila, opines that playing God on stage, which is also be streamed live worldwide, is a blessing in disguise and comes with a lot of responsibility.

“It’s a big responsibility as we’re seen as Gods by the viewers and not as actors playing some random role. Hence, we need to be very careful not only in our performance on stage but also to keep a check on our behaviour and conduct while interacting with the audience off stage. Being a part of Ramleela is life-transforming. Overall, it's a mix of a lot of responsibilities, fun, and hard work,” Gagan tells Sputnik, who also played Lord Ram on Zee TV show 'Ramayan'.

© SputnikActor Gagan Malik playing Lord Ram's role in Luv Kush Ramleela
Actor Gagan Malik playing Lord  Ram's role in Luv Kush Ramleela - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.10.2021
Actor Gagan Malik playing Lord Ram's role in Luv Kush Ramleela
Actress Samikssha Bhatnagar, who will be seen playing Goddess Sita for the first time at Lav Kush Ramlila, shares that coming from the theatre background has helped her a lot in bringing the epic mythology live on stage for nine days.
© SputnikActress Samikssha Bhatnagar playing the Goddess Sita in Luv Kush Ramleela
Actress Samikssha Bhatnagar playing the Goddess Sita in Luv Kush Ramleela - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.10.2021
Actress Samikssha Bhatnagar playing the Goddess Sita in Luv Kush Ramleela
‘Phygital’ Ramlila
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the grand ancient Hindu mythological play ‘Ramlila’ will go phygital for the first time.

“Luv Kush Ramleela is the biggest live stage of India for Ramleela. Usually, thousands of people come to watch it live. But because of the pandemic, the live audience will be very less. By expanding digitally, millions around the world will watch it from their homes. High-quality equipment backed with technicians and experts to do live editing, streaming and also use of a crane to lift the vimana (spacecraft) are going to make it all the more interesting. It is a great achievement by the Ramleela committee to take to the world,” Gagan says.

What’s New?
Apart from going phygital, organisers, actors and directors are raising the bar for Ramlila a notch higher, with many new elements.

“News scenes are being introduced in the play, a lot of dance performances are added up with beautiful new costumes and jewellery. We had composed 40 new songs for the first time that will be played in every scene. The quality of the Ramlila will be at the next level this year,” Ashok Agarwal, head of Luv Kush Ramlila Committee, tells Sputnik.

As Delhi opens up for live events in times of COVID, organisers have also made a lot of efforts to ensure visitors follow 100 percent mask compliance and safety protocols.
Is the Craze of Ramlila Fizzling out?
From children and teens to the elderly, the Hindu ancient epic mythology of ‘Ramcharitmanas’ that is enactment on stage as ‘Ramlila’ across the states of India and dramatised on TV channels as ‘Ramayana’ has entertained millions of viewers and it has also been a source of moral lessons.
While some people still connect with Ramlila, many believe that its craze has fizzled out, especially among the younger generation.

“It is unfortunate that the significance of Ramleela has fizzled out among the youngsters especially. They are mostly interested in watching fun Bollywood and Hollywood movies and hooked to social media and other apps. Small children are busy watching cartoons and playing video games. But they have forgotten that the sacraments of Hindus were originated from Ramayana.

“Great teachings of life can be learnt from this epic. It can teach you the right way of life. It teaches you that truth always prevails no matter what, and what's the true essence of family relationships," says Gagan, who is set to perform Lord Rama's role.
"It gives you wisdom about what’s right and wrong in life. I believe it is the duty of the parents to make sure that they encourage their children to watch Ramayana or Ramleela and apply the teaching in their lives to be a better person,” he adds.
Samikssha, performing the role of Rama's wife Sitha, suggests that new exciting avenues must be explored in order to keep the tradition upbeat.
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