India is renowned as a country of contrasts. A country of a million gods. Each god revered and worshiped through unique rituals.
The Ramleela festival is one such festival which narrates the story of Lord Ram. The Ramayan is considered to be one of the most sacred epics of India. This festival is a 10 day celebration of that epic. An epic that encompasses being a Hindu to its fullest.
I have grown up watching plays being performed during the festivals. They were entertaining when I was little as it meant, I could be out till late with my parents. It did not mean much to me other than it was a great time to be out with friends.
But its very different now. The critical mind wishes to question the visual aspects of these festivals. What is the purpose of this 10 day long celebration?
Is it to remind us of a glorious India that once was a magnificent civilisation? Is it to tell us we are still as magnificent?
Does the youth growing up in modern India connect with this? The youth in rural towns browse through their smart phones watching American sitcom’s dubbed in regional languages. The aspirations of Indian youth who are part of today’s global community want to be at an equal footing with the slick skateboarders of California or the party revellers of Berlin. Their forward looking anxious minds probably do not have time to stop and look back at their own heritage. The time when they do look back is when politically sponsored events such as these festivals are organised in their town. The chatter on social media is polarising. These festivals have become prejudice reinforcing tools and hence seem to be patronised by the religiously affiliated political clan.
The dhoti was yesterday. Jeans are today. The “pagadi” was yesterday. Bandana’s are today. Just as the local guise has moved on in an organic manner, the country has also moved on in a similar fashion .The old and the new squeezing each other out to dominate the landscape.
People my age are caught in this transition. Reminiscing the simplicity of the past while perpetually trying to keep pace with the changing norms. The long drawn queues around the railway station to get your seat reserved is replaced by fastest button first madness on the online booking system where reservations fill up within minutes. Capacity is the same, just the access to it has become blazing fast. Survival of the fittest was applicable in the past, but today it’s gone beyond that. It’s the survival of the luckiest.
‘ This series was made at one such festival and shows various actors and their modern day depictions of revered gods’