- (Hindi: play of Rama) A form of Indian theater, especiallypopular in northern villages, which depicts episodes from the lifeof the Hindu god Rama. Ramlila is a generic term for a rangeof dramatic events performed in honour of Rama, mainly during festivalsin September, October, and November, and at Diwali. It takes placethroughout India and has many local variants. In Ramnagar (which means'Rama's city') 30 days are devoted to the Ramlila and morethan a million pilgrims as well as non-Hindus attend the processionsand performances. Ramlila probably dates back to ancient India,with stories taken from the Ramayana and music that blendsreligious, classical, and folk traditions.
The main characters are Rama, his wife Sita, and his threebrothers Lakshmana, Bharata, and Saturgna, all of whom are playedby Brahmin boys who have not reached puberty. They are believed tobecome embodiments of the gods during the performance. The actor playingRavana, the king of the demons, wears a mask showing his 10 heads.There are opportunities for hundreds of other youths to take partas the warring monkey soldiers of Rama and the demon soldiers of Ravana.The battle ends with the burning of huge effigies of Ravana and hisbrothers, which are set alight by burning arrows; fireworks are alsoset off as the crowd chants "Victory to Rama".