kiskiKAHANI (the Ramayana Project)

300 Ramayanas and Counting . . .
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SAVARI RAMLILA IN OLD DELHI

Posted on by Imran

It was during the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s rule that the Savari Ramlila emerged as an important tradition in Old Delhi. When representatives from the Hindu community expressed their desire to celebrate Ramlila, the emperor not only agreed, but also funded the Ramlila extravagance which was accompanied by a joyous 10-day procession called the Savari. The celebration brought the neighbouring Hindu communities together and became one of the most important cultural events of the locality. However, with time, the festival has slowly deteriorated to a pale shadow of its former self. More than half of the original inhabitants of Old Delhi have moved out as residential places have been converted into commercial hubs. The present population is not as invested in this age-old tradition. Lacking local sponsors and enthusiasm, the practice is slowly losing its prominence. Bahadur Shah Zafar allowed the procession that symbolized Ram’s journey to traverse the entire city, including the Red Fort. The procession began in the afternoon and travelled from one temple to another till it reached its final destination—the Ramlila performance ground—in the evening. Late in the night, after the performance had ended, the Savari would return to the temple it had started from. Seventy-year-old Yogeshwar Dayal, who is a former resident of the neighbourhood, and Akhilesh Dayal, who lives in Nai Sarak, have fond memories of the Savari of yesteryears: The procession would be at least a kilometre long and pass through … Continue reading

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Living with Ravana

Posted on by Imran

Abhinandita Mathur spent time with Brahmanand Tyagi, the man who has played Ravana for 31 years. These are images from her journey with him.  Abhinandita is a Delhi based photographer and researcher. For more on the Ramlila Savari in New Delhi have a look at our essay!    

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