Ramalilas of Odisha

Specials | Sahi Jata and Ramalilas

I’ve talked about Rama in earlier posts. Like this one -

This story is not about the character himself. This will talk about the number of places in Odisha where his tale is enacted. All of this starts on Rama Navami, believed to his birthday. Usually, local enactments start on this day, continuing for almost a week. On the day itself, Rama is actually ‘born’ in the Puri Temple.

This symbolic ritual reinforces the Odia belief that Jagannatha is the source of all forms. Gender fluidity is another of the implications. God has no gender, a definite gender at times, as well as both at once.

Another curious ritual of Odishan Ramalilas is the respect towards the one who plays Ravana. In the Puri tradition, Ravana receives a garland from Lord Jagannatha before playing his part- in other words, approval from the deity. Ravana Tati, the mask of Ravana is revered and worshipped in Puri, even offered fish- for they acknowledge his wisdom. In his dance called Rabana Nacha, his mannerisms are graceful to reflect his knowledge. This ensures a balance between both sides- being comfortable with the ideas without being biased for or against either character.

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