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Ladakh Diaries Part 9: Lamayuru

Lamayuru is one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh, the oldest surviving structure dating to the 11 th century CE. What makes this monastery particularly fascinating, is its location, amidst what is today called the “moonscape”, for the spectacular natural rock formations, which truly are “out of the world”! As per legend , there once existed a huge lake in this area, populated only by the Nagas (serpents). It was prophesized that there would be a great monastery built here. This prophecy came true when the great acharya Naropa (756-1041 CE) arrived. He emptied the lake, meditated for many years inside a cave, and built the first monastery here. The present structure is a new one, built around the cave where Acharya Naropa is said to have meditated. This legend seems to fit well with the geological formations seen in the area, which suggest this was a paleo-lake, which disappeared around 1000 years ago. Lamayuru is about 130 km from Leh , and the Indus River flows along th

Ramlila at Chembur

Navaratri is the celebration of victory over evil. Whether it is the Devi slaying Mahishasura or Rama slaying Ravana, the theme remains the same, though the players might change. It is interesting to note that in the southern, eastern, and western parts of the country, it is the Devi who is revered, while it is mostly in the north that Ram takes centre stage. No matter what the gender bias, stories are always fun, which is why I dragged a reluctant Samhith from his Percy Jackson book, to see a real hero in action... or at least, a hero on stage - at our local Ramlila.


My memories of Ramlila date back to more than three decades, and, naturally, are rather hazy. Our local Ramlila can be said to be mediocre at best, and we have always lacked the patience to sit through the hamming till the local politicians turn up (usually hours late) and give the go ahead for the burning of Ravana. This year, however, I was determined, and having decided a time which I believed was soon enough without being too early, we set off, and, miraculously, found a chair to sit on too! 

That's the main cast on the main part of the set, with a backdrop which doubles up as both, Ayodhya as well as Lanka


The rendering of the epic might have been uninspiring, but the final fireworks were certainly worth the wait!!! Let me take you through our experience, in pictures....

Ravana, all set, to be burnt... and the crowd enjoying the Ramlila


Rama and Hanuman, among others, enjoying the play of words between two other characters


Rama and Lakshmana looking on as Ahi Ravan ponders over what to do with them


A bit of fun, which everyone enjoys immensely! That's Ahi Ravan lifting Lakshmana



Does he need an introduction?
There is just one ten headed character in all of our epics... Ravana



That's part of the crew which makes it possible - the music team, and the buffoon on the right, who lightens up the mood and drags on the play while waiting for our inevitably late politicians!

And that's the crowd.... Can you imagine turning up just in time for the burning, and finding a place to sit? On a chair? Yep! Thats how lucky we were!!


And here is another view of the music troupe


Rama challenging Ravana for the final battle. At last, the end is in sight!!


And the arrow is lit!!


The target is all set. with a rope running from the stage to the effigy


The arrow on its way...


unerringly towards its target!


Ravana is hit!!
Though it is no surprise, you would think it was, from the cheer that goes up!!


I must admit, it is exciting to see Ravana burn!!!


And as he burns, Samhith, all excited now, climbs up on the chair and directs what pics I am to take. These are all on his instructions, for I can barely see above the crowd which is now standing high above me!


It is amazing to see how quickly Ravana burns! And with so little danger to the crowd!


It is a fascinating sight!!


As the fire overcomes Ravana


literally eating him up!


The skeleton is now visible, and Samhith's excitement is palpable!!


What a sight this is!


Even as organisers shout to the crowd, to keep safe distance,
the cheering is what we can hear, not the announcement!


Within minutes, its all over!!


This is all that's left!


Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman, sit forlonly on the throne, awaiting the coronation scene. The announcers are busy announcing - that the Ramlila is not over. Ram has yet to be crowned king. But the crowd is too busy gawking at Ravana (and honestly, so are we! ) 


The firecrackers only add to the excitement. And I am so proud of myself for this shot!!! First time I have managed it!!

And one last one, before we set out, hoping to find an auto to take us back home!!
That was a wonderful experience, and one I hope will excite Samhith enough to want to go see another one!!! And that is how Navaratri ended for us, with a spectacular fireworks celebration for Dusshera! Now to wait another year for this time to come again!!!

Comments

  1. Hey! I didn't even know this happened! Why didn't you tell me about the local Ramlila when I was in Chembur? I would have tried to go and see it :( Good to see you and Samhith had fun! Thanks for the pics

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    1. I didnt know it either, Usha. or we could have gone together. read about it in the paper and went 2 years back, but the chief guests were late, and it just went on and on and on.. got bored and left. then last year, went late, only to realise that it was all over... so this year went a bit earlier and caught it at last!!! plan a trip next year.. will go and see it everyday!

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  2. http://tinyurl.com/workid/?id=Aayu

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