Mc Bean Ramleela and Cultural Group celebrates Ramleela

Dancing to Tassa music at Ramleela Festival in Mc Bean

The Mc Bean Ramleela and Cultural Group successfully hosted their Ramleela Celebrations on the same compound of the Lower Mc Bean, Couva Hindu Mandir. The celebrations was held over a period of several nights and culminated on Saturday 3rd October, 2009 with an exciting finale that was well attended. The climax of the evening was the burning of the effigy of Ravana symbolizing the Hindu demon, King Ravan which stood 30 feet high off the ground at one end of the large open air space that was also adorned with other props that were used in the play.

The word Ramleela derives itself from the two Hindi words: ‘Leela’ meaning play or theatre, and ‘Ram’ referring to the Hindu diety Ram or Rama. Ramleela is a Hindu celebration that involves the re-enactment of the exploits of Lord Rama as told in the Ramayana. The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki which is estimated to be written around the 4th century B.C. In the epic, Rama (an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu), the main character is a prince and heir to the throne in the kingdom of Ayodhya. A series of events lead to Ram and his wife Seeta being exiled following which Seeta is kidnapped by King Ravan. Ram, rallies his forces including Hanuman and Laxman, to do battle with Ravan.

Pundit Ravi Maraj, in an interview with shared many details about the production: “You will find that we have a lot of voluntary effort taking place. It involves players, rehearsals, discussions, meetings and so on. It involves the people with the costuming, making props and the people who actually prepare the infrastructure of the place and so on. So all of that in one is a community based effort. It is a project which is time consuming. It also involves being able to have choreography before the actual play starts so you find that we have discussions based upon how we are going to portray certain scenes, characterization in terms of what characters they are going to be portraying to be able to bring those characters to life. Like for instance a saint or a sage in the forested region, how we should dress, how we should walk, what garbs he should wear, how he should project himself, what auspicious marking in order for the viewing public to be able to identify well this is a sage in the forested region. So those are the basic things that are involved. I would like to say it is really a project where people volunteer their services and people who come and indicate their interest in order to be able to get the whole project going.”

Pundit Ravi Maraj also narrated the Ramleela scenes bringing the scenes to life, as the various actors portrayed their characteristics with great enthusiasm. The scenes were infused by dancing movements from the colorfully clad characters, Tassa drumming, along with the appropriate commentary by Pundit Maraj. After numerous battles and stand-offs, the play culminated in the final showdown between Ravan and Ram, which was quite entertaining to the large audience. Both characters battled each other with much gusto and after much effort, Ram was able to ‘slay’ Ravan, representing to Hindus the victory of good over evil, righteousness over unrighteousness.

After the play, the colorful effigy of King Ravan, the Hindu demon, was set alight and spectators looked on in excitement as flames devoured the 30 foot structure. As it crashed to the ground, the pulsating beat of the Tassa drums filled the atmosphere bringing an end to the Ramleela.

After the burning of the Hindu demon King Ravan, members of the Mc Bean Ramleela and Cultural Group danced, sang and celebrated the ending of the presentation.

The Mc Bean Ramleela and Cultural Group brought the Ramayan story to life, and it was evident that a lot of inputs and effort were needed to pull off the production. Among the cast, Ram was played by Matthew Dhanraj, Laxman was played by Darrel, Ravan was played by Dr. Mandreka Bahall, Megnath was played by Ryan Ramdath, Seeta by Dream De Silva and Kumkaran by Hemant Ramdeen.

Also Read:

The Ramleela Celebration Told by Pundit Ravi Maraj

Interview with Pundit Ravi Maraj – His involvemnt with Ramleela

Ramleela (Ramdilla) Festival in Mc Bean Village, Couva 2009 in pictures

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