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Ramnagar Ramleela – UNESCO Cultural Heritage

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Started more than 200 years ago by the king of Varanasi, Ramanagar Ramleela is touted to be much older than that. It is believed that the student of Tulsi Das, Megha bhagat was the first person to start Ramcharitmanas-based Ramleela in the 17th century. Then Kashi Naresh Balwant Naryan Singh Started the Ramleela within the fort premises with unmatchable grandeur and details. Further King Ishwari Prashad Narayan Singh (1857- 1889) took Ramleela out of the fort among the common people of Kashi & Ramnagar.

The 5 Km square area of Ramnagar has designated Ayodhya, Janakpuri, Lanka, Ashok Vatika, and Cheer Sagar (Pond of Durga temple). The Ramleela has affectionate patronage of Kashi Naresh even today so much so that Casting of every cast is being done by him. The King Regularly attends each n every Leela and traditions are so much embedded that he skips the Ravana Wadh as a king fan not to see another Kings death

A practice still intact by the modern world and its inventions, the Ramleela of Ramnagar is celebrated for full 31 days(longer than any other place in the world) in Varanasi.

ramnagar ramleela oldest ramlila in the worldAll the participants start their training 3 months prior to the actual event and throughout this time they are only addressed by the name of their character even if in private they live a life just like the character they are playing in the event.

The event takes place in different parts of the city without any speakers, mics, or modern lights. The organizers are seen moving with lamps and torches and the characters are transported from one location to another in a human chariot that devotees pull. There is a very peculiarity of Niyamis (the one who regularly attends the Leela). Niyamis carries a source of light, a sitting arrangement, and a Ram Charit Manas. They keep reading the Manas along with the Leela. Niyamis carries Itra with them and greed other fellows with the itra.

The event is also attended by the descendants of Kashi Naresh who arrive on elephants with their staff.

Ramnagar Ramleela is so untouched by the modern world that it was classified as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008 by UNESCO. If you are in Varanasi between 9 September to 9 October 2022, do not forget to witness the grandeur of this beautiful tradition.

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