360° Coverage : New avatars of Ramayana reflect modern times

1 Updates
New avatars of Ramayana reflect modern times
Photo Credit: SAJJAD HUSSAIN, Getty Images

New avatars of Ramayana reflect modern times

Jan 9 2013, 2:31am CST | by

New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) The Indian epic Ramayana is moving beyond convention to more profound retellings to reflect new realities.

New Delhi, Jan 9 — The Indian epic Ramayana is moving beyond convention to more profound retellings to reflect new realities. Ruminate on this: Kumbhkaran, the giant sibling of the demon king Ravana...

Filed under: news

YouTube Videos

 
 
 

1 year ago

New avatars of Ramayana reflect modern times

Jan 9 2013, 2:31am CST | by

New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) The Indian epic Ramayana is moving beyond convention to more profound retellings to reflect new realities.

New Delhi, Jan 9 — The Indian epic Ramayana is moving beyond convention to more profound retellings to reflect new realities.

Ruminate on this: Kumbhkaran, the giant sibling of the demon king Ravana in the epic had to grapple with excess sleep all his life. Sleep got into the way of his contribution to the battle between Lord Ram and Ravan, leading to his death.

Lakshman, the sibling of Lord Ram, battled sleeplessness - or rather the guilt attached to the act.

"My sleep, what does it mean.. That I sleep for 14 years or I get 14 years of sleep in one night? Is sleep the only way to find out," muses an agonised Lakshman as he fends off sleep. Kumbhakaran, on the other hand, is bothered about his sleep cycle that he monitors on his wrist watch.

Lakshman and Kumbhakaran debate and spar over the implications of "this sleep" in a contemporary anecdotal re-telling of a slice from Ramayana in "Nidravatwam" - a 50-minute solo performance by playwright and director Nimmy Raphel.

Puducherry-based Raphel, who was in the capital recently for the Bharat Rang Mahotsav, the annual theatre festival of the National School of Drama, used a combination of traditional Indian Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi, traditional martial dances and contemporary body dance to narrate her interpretation of Ramayana - a transposition of the ideas associated with sleep into the realm of contemporary absurd projected against the realities of fickle sleep cycles.

Lakshman becomes a symbol of modern-day sleep abuser- caught in the throes of time, multi-tasking and deadlines.

Sleep also becomes a device of self-introspection to search for deeper truths about existence.

Kumbhakaran is the sloth who struggles with his psyche to keep the killing inertia away, but succumbs to sleeping over.

Both are connected by boons that dramatically alter their cycles of sleep and wakefulness. While Lakshman bequeaths his 14-year sleep to his wife, Kumbhakarn is allowed six-hours sleep.

The act has conflicting redemption for both - while it kills Ravana's brother, who begs Lakshman to take away some of his sleep, for the latter, the lack of it brings uncertainty.

Raphael, who has studied dance at Kalamandalam in Kerala, describes her act as a "dialogue between Kumbhakaran and Lakshma on the battlefield".

The monkey god Hanuman had taken pride in the fact that he had a better version of Ramayana than Valmiki and had even asked the seer to take it, says playwright-dancer and director Suresh Kaliyath.

A native of Kerala, Kaliyath, who is trained in the folk performing tradition of Ottanthullal, Kuchipudi and Parichamuttukali from Kerala Kalamandalam, has scripted a linear and impressionistic version of "Hanuman Ramayana" - the tale retold from Hanuman's point of view.

The play opens with Hanuman's hunger and his "fetish for food".

"It is an attempt to expose the raw power of ritual and improvisation and link modern audiences with ideas in the centuries-old epic, Ramayana, where human complexities are involved in narration," Kaliyath told IANS here.

"Human is worshipped as a symbol of strength, perseverance and devotion - and in my play he talks about the different hungers in life. I have tried to refer to the tradition of Muslim wedding feast in the northern Kerala and link it to Valmiki's interpretation of the tale," Kaliyath said.

Hanuman's needs are different. "Hanuman has the freedom to speak of his carnal requirement of food," he added.

A project, "A Modern Presentation of Ramayana: Dance in Three Parts and Comments" by Anita Ratnam, uses a short story by N.S. Madhavan, "Domestic Violence and Neurosurgeon", to compare it with the Ahlaya episode where she turns into stone because of a curse and is redeemed by Ram.

"We are conducting a three-year Ramayana Project through which we are trying to open the epic to performers for interpretation," Veenapani Chawla, director of the Puducherry-based Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts Research, told IANS.

"We have used different experiences and performance genres to interpret the Ramayana. We had invited scholars like Ashish Nandy and Romila Thapar to speak at our seminars on Ramayana - and explore the various shades of perceptions," Chawla added.

The Ramayana Project, supported by the Ford Foundation, is trying to rescue the epic from purism by giving it new voices - by members of different cultural groups including Dalits, tribals, Christians and even Muslims, who address social issues through the tome and try to draw parallels between modern society and that of the past, according to Chawla.

"The project was inspired by L. Rajappan, a Sangeet Natak Akademi award winning leather puppeteer who spent the last five years of his life at Adishakti," Chawla said.

Every year since 2009, Adishakti has been hosting Ramayana festivals that present interpretations of the epic in a wide range of genres - using traditional and modern idioms from literature and folklore.

The Ramayana has been interpreted in numerous ways over the years. In southern India there are at least seven versions in Sanskrit derived from the ancient scriptures, nearly 20 versions in regional languages and at least 10 Asian avatars.

The epics have been tweaked to cater to local sensitivities in many of the versions.

Paula Richman, in her book "Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of Narrative Traditions in South Asia", explores the different retellings of Ramayana - the story of Lord Ram, his wife Sita and Ravan - from the different communal and socio-cultural perspectives of India.

(Madhusree Chaterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

IANS

Source: IANS

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/8" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml@i4u.com. Luigi posts regularly on LuigiMe.com about his experience running I4U.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Kenya to remove ghost workers from payroll
Nairobi, Oct 25 (IANS) The Kenyan government Friday said it will remove all ghost workers from its payroll in November.
 
 
Mexico joins efforts to combat Ebola outbreak in West Africa
Mexico City, Oct 25 (IANS) Mexico is joining the international efforts to combat an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, the foreign affairs ministry said Friday.
 
 
Both US nurses recover from Ebola: hospitals
Washington, Oct 25 (IANS) Both US nurses who contracted Ebola while caring for a patient from Liberia have recovered from the potentially deadly disease, the hospitals that treated them said Friday.
 
 
UN gives Rwanda $7.2 mn for policy planning
Kigali, Oct 25 (IANS) The government of Rwanda and One UN Rwanda Friday signed 7.2 million dollars financing deal to build capacity in data generation and enhance evidence based on policy planning.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Second MERS case reported in Qatar
Doha, Oct 23 (IANS) A 43-year-old man in Qatar has tested positive for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the second confirmed case of the deadly virus in 10 days, media reported Thursday. The patient had...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Two people die in Pakistan bomb blast
Islamabad, Oct 23 (IANS) At least two people were killed and 12 others injured in an explosion that took place in Pakistan's Balochistan province Thursday, media reported. The bomb was planted on a motorcycle, Dawn...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Trott extends contract with Warwickshire till 2017
London, Oct 23 (IANS) England batsman Jonathan Trott, whose mental issues led to his abrupt departure from last winter's Ashes tour, has confirmed his successful comeback to competitive cricket by signing a new three-...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Srikanth, Kashyap big movers in BWF rankings
Kuala Lumpur, Oct 23 (IANS) Indian men shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap jumped seven places each in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings released Thursday while Olympic bronze medallist...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Alvin Stardust dead
London, Oct 23 (IANS) English singer Alvin Stardust died after a short illness. He was 72. Stardust's manager confirmed the news about his demise Thursday, reports mirror.co.uk. He was recently diagnosed with...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Indian man reunited with family after 40 years
Dubai, Oct 23 (IANS) An Indian man, who had disappeared from his hometown in Kerala nearly 40 years ago, has been found by his family at a hospital in Dubai in the UAE, a newspaper report said. Now in his 60s, Abdulla...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Srikanth, Kashyap, Saina rise in world rankings
Kala Lumpur, Oct 23 (IANS) Indian men shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap jumped seven places each in the latest released Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings Thursday while Olympic bronze medallist...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Flintoff signs for Big Bash side Brisbane Heat
Brisbane, Oct 23 (IANS) Former England captain and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who retired from international cricket in 2009, Wednesday confirmed that he will play for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League (BBL) this...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
OPEC daily basket price falls again
Vienna, Oct 23 (IANS/WAM) The basket of 12 crude oils of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) closed at $81.94 a barrel Wednesday compared to $82.09 Tuesday, the OPEC Secretariat said. The new OPEC...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Lopez to sign multi-million dollar deal?
Los Angeles, Oct 23 (IANS) Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez is reportedly in the final stages of securing a multi-million dollar deal to perform in Las Vegas. The 45-year-old is being offered $350,000 per show at The...
Read more on Celebrity Balla