Raslila

Definition

Theater

  • (Hindi: dance play in a circle) In India, a general term forvarious dance-dramas and dances; the word refers to Lord Krishna'sdance with the wives of Vrindavan. Performances often occur in a templeor sacred resting place for travellers. The most famous version isthe Raslila of Vrindavan, a holy city in northern India closeto where Krishna is believed to have been born.

    Raslila is a sacred ceremony in itself: performancesmust end before midnight and the audience must remove their shoes,refrain from talking and smoking, and never sit or stand higher thanthe actors playing Krishna and Radha. The Raslila troupe consistsof 10 to 18 male performers. The actors who play Krishna and Radhaare traditionally drawn from Brahmin families while Krishna's otherchief consorts are played by prepubescent boys. When the actors dontheir crowns, they are believed to become incarnations of the godsthey portray and are carried to the acting area so that their feetdo not touch the ground. The drama combines dancing, songs, dialogue,monologue, and tableaux. When it ends the audience shouts "Victoryto Krishna of Vrindavan!"

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