Date: 17th January 2019, Triveni Stage
The Hindu Prachaar Kendra (HPK), Trinidad salutes Baba Tulsi Das, Father of Hindu Caribbean for the gift of the Ramcharitmanas which has enabled a deep foundation, a unity, an inspiration of thought, language and culture upon which to erect a progressive community. Ramdilla is the only epic that is performed outside India and Trinidad is the bastion of Ramdilla performance.
Hindu Prachaar Kendra is also thankful to AyodhyaShodhSansthaan, Director Dr. Y. P. Singh and Dr.PanditaaIndraniRampersad for the opportunity given to Baal Ramdilla to perform at KumbhMela, Prayag Raj, Bharat, the land of our ancestors. That Baal Ramdilla is performing at Prayag Raj at KumbhMela makes it a landmark day for the Caribbean Trinidad and Tobago and in particular, Baal Ramdilla of Raghunanan Road, Enterprise, Trinidad.
The Hindu Prachaar Kendra, Trinidad, has been hosting Baal Ramdilla since 2004. At the inception of this project, the Kendra had to teach the various Ramlila disciplines to the cast. This led to the development of an annual ‘Heritage Vacation Course – HVC’ – held daily during school vacation periods. Baal Ramdilla is now one of its major courses and because it attracts children, it has become the main recruiting ground for children ages 5-14 years of age.HVC is sanskaar based and covers Ramlila theory, performance and arts. One of the aims is to train the children in management, and leadership.
They attend classes in several subject areas that are connected with Ramdilla performances: Ramayan Lessons, Script Writing, Narration, Drama, Singing, Ramdilla Dance, and Yoga. They begin the day with RamdillaPrarthana of a compilation of Ramcharitmanas verses dealing with Leela. They maintain a vegetarian diet from July to October when Heritage Vacation Course is held and Ramdilla is performed.
The Annual Baal Ramdilla production is the culmination of the months of training and it is unique because it is narrated, performed and directed by children and youths. Baal Ramdilla takes place during Nav Ratri at the community grounds at Raghunanan Road, Enterprise, Central Trinidad. The ‘Ramdilla Grong’ (Ground) is sanctified with Bhoomi Pooja and remains sacred for the duration of the performance which takes place over one week daily from 6.30pm – 8.30pm.
Why the name, ‘Ramdilla’:
The Hindu Prachaar Kendra believes “We must never lose the word ‘leelaa’, because it is a unique heritage that informs about a way of seeing and interpreting reality. However, we must not deny new manifestations of our culture and heritage far away from India. We must give validity to that which is our Jahaajee identity. In fact, Ramdilla like, Ramleela is the performance of a vernacular text, Tulsikrit Ramayan. ‘Ramdilla’, as the Trinidad vernacular for ‘Ramlila’protects the continued investment in the uniqueness of our religious, cultural heritage as evolving in the Caribbean.” For these reasons, the Hindu Prachaar Kendra has consciously named its children’s Ramlila production as Baal Ramdilla, as a fitting tribute to the Jahaajee ancestors of the Caribbean region.
Baal Ramdilla, like all MoolRamlilas, is a split performance;
A) The narrator is separate and on a platform in the east
B) Thepaatras/actors are separate and on the‘Ramdilla Grong’
C) The narrator (supported by a Mandali) sings theRamcharitmanas verses and comments
D) Thepaatrasprovide abhinaya viz rasas(moods) and kriya(mime)
E) Peripatetic dance allows for processional movements, for Ram moves from place to place from North to South and back.
F) In the Caribbean the paatras are not professionals but bhaktas and community workers.
G) Both females and males perform in Baal Ramdilla. It does not bear gender discrimination.
H) Baal Ramdilla performance traditions in the Caribbean demonstrates change and continuity.
Baal Ramdilla has performed at the Ramlila Pilot Project of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Festival of Arts – Carifesta 2006 and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – CHOGM 2009. It has revived Ramdilla in Guyana at Bal Gopal Mandir.
DAILY EPISODES FOR PRAYAG RAJ
Banwaasi Ramayan: The exiling of Ramayan, First Ramdilla in Trinidad, Kop Bhavan, Ram Chale Ban, Sita Haran, Jataayu Maran, Hanuman Milan, Ram-Rawan Yuddha, Ram and Shri Ram Abhishek
The production on proscenium stage at Kumbh Mela has retained some of the features of the original form of Open Air Leela tradition: mimetic style split performance, often several scenes simultaneously appear and narration is in present continuous tense. The performance is based on Tulsidas’ original verses but the narration is in English mixed with Hindi.
The presentation recreates the episodes as found in the iconic shloka brought to the Caribbean by the Jahaajee ancestors during the period 1845 – 1917:
AADOW RAAM TAPO VANAADI GAMANAM,
VAIDEHI HARANAM JATAAYU MARANAM SUGREEVA SAMBHAASHANAM//
BAALI NIRDALANAM SAMUDRA TARANAMLANKAA PUREE DAAHANAM
PASCHAAD RAAVANA KUMBHAKARNAHANANAM,
KSHEPAK: The production opens with a unique episode ‘BANVAASI RAMAYAN’ the story of the original Maanasa written by the hand of Tulsidas ji. It was taken to Trinidad by Jahaajees when they were ‘kidnapped’ from a Satsang at TulsiGhat.