Ramkatha in Oral Narratives and folk performance of Orissa 

Ramkatha in Oral Narratives and folk performance of Orissa 

Mahendra Kumar Mishra, Orissa 

The number of Ramayanas and the range of their influence in South and South east Asia over the past twenty-five hundred years or more are astonishing. Sanskrit alone contains some twenty five or more tellings belonging to various narrative genres.(epics,Kavya or ornate poetic compositions, puranas or old mythological stories ands forth.) If we add play, dance drama, and other performances, in both the classical and folk traditions, the number of Ramayanas grows even larger. (AKRamanujan in Three Hundred Ramayanas- in the Collected Essays of AK Ramanujan)

Introduction: 

Indian poetics is expressed in two major art forms. One is sravya kavya (text) and another is drisyakavya (performance). The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two purana and Itihasa which are found in both the forms. When it is recited it is text and when the text is performed either in ritual context or in social context it is performance .While the text is accessible to the learned elites and the literates of the country, its performance is helpful to the non-literate people to visualize the text-in-performance and equally they share the text with religious purpose. 

When oral narrative is called text its display in any art form in a given ritual or social context is performance. Therefore even the Ramayana text is recited by the sacred singers and listened by a host of audience is considered as performance. But the weaknesses of the text are that unless it is performed, the real purpose and meaning of the text is incomplete. The purpose of the listening, reading and performing the glory of Gods and Goddesses have four aims. They are dharma, artha, kama and moksha.People perpetuates their development through progeny(kama)economy( artha) and religious ethics and morals(dharma) and finally urge for emancipation/salvation after death to have a state of eternity. 

According to Karin Barberii, The text is the permanent artifact , hand written or printed , while the performance is the unique , never to be repeated realization or concretization of the text , a realization that brings the” text to life”. Text fixes, performance animates. (2005: 264). In Indian context when we find many texts in the Ramayana, it is not true to say that text is fixed. Even the text is also moulded by many writers of the country in much form. There fore there are many Ramayana’s in texts and much performance in the performance. 

The objective of this paper is to explore the Ramkatha in Orissa, both in oral and written form and the performance of the text cutting across rural, urban and tribal society. The sacred centers in Orissa representing the worship of Lord Rama as incarnation of God are the center of text and performance of the Ramayana. 

Socio religious context of the Ramakatha: 

In India two epics are considered to be the sacred texts which is found in living socio- religious practice over a period of more than three thousand years. These are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. While Mahabharata is considered as a reality on conflict between the brothers for power, the Ramayana is the ideal model of sublimating the power into brotherly love and dedication. The characters and events of the Ramayana are ideal in terms of maintaining their ideology. Therefore Rama is ideal for his father, his brother, his wife and also to his enemies. The ideal in the character in the Ramayana is the guiding principles of an Indian family where every body wish to follow the characters of the Ramayana. A husband like Rama, an obedient brother like ,Bharata and Lakshman, an ideal wife like Sita who is ready to share the pains wither husband, and an ideal villain like Ravana who is ready to help Rama for bridging of Setubandh are some of the instances which attracts the people of India. Even Ravana , as a devil king has never touched Sita while she was in Ashoka batika in Srilanka. This indicates the ideal of the Ramayana. The socio – religious significance of the Ramayana is that it is an ideal model which regulates the individual as well as the society to follow the ideals of Indian culture. Therefore, reading or enjoying the text and performances of the Ramayana in the society respectively plays a role of social function. ON the other hand, the characters of Mahabharata like the Pandavas are not compatible to the status of God incarnate, so they are not universally worshipped. The Mahabharata is the story of every day conflict between the brothers 

for sharing of land. A proverb runs that, either a lifer is lost for a woman (Ramayana) or a life lost for land (Mahabharata). 

Temple as the foundation of Ramakatha: 

Temple forms the center of all religious performance of Ramaleela and Krishna leela. It is found that while Rama is popular in south Orissa, Krishna is popular in eastern Orissa and both the popular gods have synchronized in the cult of Lord Jagannath.In Oriya Bhagavata it is written that Lord Jagannath is the embodiment of 16 kalas (incarnation) and Krishna is one of that avatar. Thus Vishnu or Jagannath takes form of Rama and Krishna in different time to perform their leela on the earth to appease their subjects. 

Both text and performance on Ramaleela and Krishnaleela are institutionalized by the sacred centers or temple management in Indian tradition irrespective of the city or village. The texts in Ramkatha are intergenerational and are perpetuated in the palm leaf manuscript. After use of paper it is found in printed form. But the Ramaleela nata (text for performance) is mostly available in rural areas of Orissa which may be more than hundreds of Ramayana episodes found in performance. 

Ramakatha in written texts: 

Ramakatha is found in written Oriya text over a period of last six hundred years of literary history of Orissa. This was disseminated through palm leaf manuscript. Village headmen were used to purchase the Ramayana from the Brahmins/Vaishnavs paying alms to them as the token of respecting knowledge. The manuscript was institutionalized through a ritual in the village where every body in the village was participating. The palm leaf manuscript was worshipped either in the village temple or in the house of the village headman. Needless to say, irrespective of lettered and non-lettered, every body were taking part in the listening and performing. Even the most illiterate of the village, by listening the text from the singer, use to recite Ramayana. Even to day it is seen that, nonliterate also play the role in folk drama Ramaleela. 

Text is created and it is transmitted verbally by the traditional Guru of Ramaleela, the drama director in the village. Text is also transmitted through palm leaf manuscript. Even after the printed epics of the 

Ramayana were available it was not easy to get a copy of it in the rural areas of Orissa. The typical weekly village market of rural and tribal Orissa have a small mobile bookshop which makes available to the people with the sacred books along with epics and songs of Orissa as the basic need of spiritual life. These printed books were not available to every one. Even to day, when the Ramayana is available in electronic form in rural areas of Orissa through VCD, people lack getting different version of Ramayana in the market. 

Ramayana has been reinterpreted by many a poets and writers. Sarala Das the great poet composing a complete Mahabharata in Oriya language during 15th century, was also the poet of writing the Ramayana. Dandi Mahabharata is the first written text composed by poet Sarala Das. He was the pioneer of Oriya literature not only for his writings of 18 parvas of Mahabharata , but it was also the biggest text in the palm leaf manuscript. Out of eighteen parva(chapters), description of the Ramayana is found place in the Vana Parva( the Pandava’s exile in the forest).There poet Sarala Das has imagined many episodes connected to Ramkatha which are not found place in Sanskrit Ramayana. These local imagination of the Ramkatha, since found in written form, after listening this people believe to be true and the episodes are still alive in the social memory of the people. 

Some of them are, 

  • King Dasaratha had 750 queens 
  • Son of Surpanakha( Ravana’s sister’s son)killed by Lakshman 
  • Hanuman wear divine clothes during his birth 
  • Valmikis’birth from Brahma, the Creator god 
  • After the killing of demon king Ravana, Rama ,with all his monkey soldiers returned to Ayudhya by foot, through a route Kiskindhya. 

Similarly Balaram Das in his Jagmohan Ramayana has created some imaginary episodes .These are I. Episode of maya (illusion)Sita, ii. Episode of Vedabati, Iii.Ravana in Sita’s swayamvara (marriage ceremony where Sita choose her husband) Iv.Curse of Lakshman to Sita etc. People believe these episodes to be the part of greater Ramayana and this is the dissemination of the Ramkatha. The cheap books on Sita Vilapa ( Sita’s Lamenting), Ramanka soka( crying of Rama)Sita Chori( abduction of Sita) Lanka Dahana( burning of Lanka),Rama janma( birth of Rama) Sravana Kumar and many more episodes are found in 

written form which consists of 4 pages to eight pages and available to the people. 

After the popularity of Vichitra Ramayana, poets like Raghunath Das, Ananga Narendra, and Vaisya Sadashiva, Bipra janardana, Vikram Dev Narendra and many other poets have written Ramayana in leela form as part of their socio-religious institutions.iii 

This was open to all irrespective of castes, so poets from Brahmin( Bipra) Kshatriya( Narendra)Businessman( Vaisya) were writing the Ramayana and was accepted every where. 

After that poet Arjun Das wrote Rama Bibha (Marriage of Rama). Dhananjaya Bhanja , the king of Ghumusar wrote Raghunath Vilasa,After that poet Upendra Bhanja, wrote Vaidehisha Vilasa( 52 chhanda-chapters). 

Sri Viswanath Khuntia wrote Ramaleela in 18th century. His Ramayana is popularly known as Vichitra Ramayana. Prior to that though performance was in practice, it was confined to urban cities and the villages with temples. Rest of the villages had no scope of enjoying Ramakatha performance. After the popularity of Vichitira Ramayana the villages with out temple also organized the Ramaleela through a ritual.. 

Ramayana has equal popularity irrespective of rural, tribal and urban. Even in rural Orissa Ramkatha is available in varied form. In western Orissa the folk poets have written Jaiphula Ramayana and (Halia Ramayana (ploughman’s Ramayana).These are cheap books available in village market. 

Ramaleela text is considered to be the Kavya Natya ( epic drama) and a number of poets have written it .The purpose is to propagate the Ramayana for social values and moral teaching through ritual performance. This was the only source of the non literate people to see the living Gods and goddesses acting like human and even in the electronic age, people like to see Ramayana in living performance. 

Ramakatha in Oral text: 

Ramakatha is embedded in the mental text of many a people of the country, cutting across ages. Many non-literate women in rural areas 

use to see the drama performance and retain the story of the Ramayana. Interestingly enough, the same stories are reinterpreted in their mental repertoire and recreated.The rural non literate men and women who create an opportunity to listen the Ramayana by instituting the recitation of Ramayana ( parayana) organized by the villagers/ temple administrators. 

The tribal region of Orissa associates the Ramakatha from own ethnic context. Ramkatha, one way or the other are associated with many waterfall, mountains, rivers, and forests and bear the foot prints of characters of the Ramayana. Each space has its own story of the Ramayana. The event is variables, and since this a universal story in the country, the characters are constant. Tribes like the Gonds, the Kishan, Bondas, the Jatapu and the Gadaba tribe of Orissa have their own myths and legends associated with the events and characters of the Ramayana and they believe it to be true. 

In folksongs of western Orissa Rama is imagined to be a farmer and Lakshman and Sita assist him in cultivation. 

The ploughman of western Orissa sings the song as follows: 

Bailare , Rama Laikhana je dui goti Bhai, Rama lhande langala, Lakhana ;hande mai, Palhapaprasibe lakhmana 

Sitaya jibe rui ho. 

Translación: 

Bailare (refrain) Oh it is told, Rama and Lakshman are two brothers Rama ties the plough and Lakshman levels the land Lakshman distribute the sapling and Sita will plant it. 

The Binjhal tribe of western Orissa has the Ramkatha in their Karma song. They sing, 

Sita Sita bolije banaste pade huri, Bada dusta se Ravana Saitake kala chori Kandi kandi Rama je laikhana, Bhumire pade gadi ho. 

Churailu Ravana re luchaibu kahhin Jogamaya bolinaje Sitaya tora giana nahinje 

Translation: Shouting of Rama for Sita echo’s the jungle 

Devil Ravana stolen Sita Rama and Lakshman fell on the ground With rolling tears from their eyes. 

Oh devil Ravana, As though you have stolen Sita 

Where will you hide her? She is Yoga Maya (has illusion power with yoga) You are ignorant of that! 

Tribes of Orissa have a rich oral tradition. They narrate Ramakatha associated their myths and legends with the Ramayana. The Bonda tribe of Orissa is most endangered language group consists of about six thousand people. The women folk of Bonda community remain half clad and shave their head and don’t keep hair. They also don’t use any cloth in upper part of their body and clad it with a bunch of beads. Being asked they answer that Goddess Sita had cursed them, so they don’t use cloth and shave head. The myth runs among the Bonda related to Ramkatha is: 

“In Bondaiv highland, there is a stream called Kingubodak. The stream was running undera big mango grove. While Rama in exile they reached in Bondaland. Sita saw the stream and was fascinated to take a bathe. She took her bathe with out any clothes in her body. A group of Bonda women were walking on that way. Sita got up from the stream water. Mean while a bird flied on the sky and on its chirping, the Bonda women laughed at this. Sita saw them in front of her. She was angry. She said, “Being women you saw the naked body of a woman and laughed at me? The whole world will laugh at you. You will be naked in kali Yuga. You will have no hair on your head. If you grow hair in your head, then a single grass will not sprout on the ground and you Bonda people will perish.” 

Hearing this from Sita, the selani( bonda girls) started crying. They had no intention to laugh at Goddess Sita. Sita could not tolerate their crying. Out of compassion she torn a string from her cloth and offered it to them. She said, “In Kali yuga, you will prepare ringa (a two feet cloth that is used by the bonda girl as their cloth) and wear around your waist.” 

After that Bonda women use ringa – on their waist.”(Ray Pratibha: in Adibhumi

The myths of the Gonds signifies the importance of Ravanavamsi and Suryavamsi Gonds found in the middle India.Some Gond communities of south India claim their origin from Ravana and thus they are known as Ravana Vamsi Gondv. Similarly the Malyavantagiri is associated with the Malkangiri district of Koraput which forms as a part of Dandakaranya forest .A water source called Patalaganga is associated with the glory of the Ramayana. The story of Rama in exile is connected with the water source.vi 

Besides, myths and legends, there are oral epics of the tribal and non-tribal communities which have been influenced by the Ramayana tradition. The story of the Ramayana has been reinterpreted based on the themes suitable to them. The epic singers pick up those episodes which are required for the family or the society to validate their ideological needs. All the episodes of the Ramayana have strong social function. Oral epics and written epics are the best examples of recycling the Ramayana tradition in form of oral performance. In folk and tribal communities, the Ramayana are re-imagined either originally retold in their language or moulding the topic through adding the local episode in the existing themes of the Ramayana. The Bonda myth narrated in this volume is the wandering of Rama with Sita and Lakshman is added to the Bonda etiological myth( Why the Bonda women don’t keep hair on their head?).Similarly the Gond myth of origin also portrays the Rama in exile and their connection with him. Another method of narration is found in the folk society where the narration is influenced by the events and characters of the Ramayana.Kotrabaina Ramela , a Gaur epic which has captured the thematic structure of the Ramayana (from abduction of Sita to fire ordeal of Sita) and reimagined the story from their ethnic point of view.(Mishra ;2007:184)vii 

The Banjara oral epic Raja Isalu has the events and characters that are inversed, or imitated. Similarly the thematic structure of the Ramayana is adopted by the Gaur epic singers and their ethnic epics is created. Role inversion is found in both the Banjara and the Gaur epic. (Mishra: 2007:165 )viii 

Proverbs and riddles related to the events and characters of the Ramayana are another genres which is most popular among the people. Even the game called “kasadi”- a fourteen pit wooden board 

played by two – three girls with tamarind seeds are most popular games in Orissa . It is believed that this game is known as Sita- khel.ix, and it is believed that when Sita was imprisoned in the Ashok vatika she was used to play this game. The same wooden board was also available in the royal families of Orissa where the princes were used to play the game with their companions and were learning counting and measuring. Another game was Ram Ravan in which two groups of boys fight each other and try to win. One group becomes Rama group and another Ravana. 

The birds and animals, the fruits and flowers are associated with the story of the Ramayana. 

The socio religious significance of the Ramakatha in Orissa society has a deep involvement in the collective life of the people. Scholastic point of view it may be inferred that how an epic is lively in the present day life influencing the socio-religious life and is found institutionalized in the whole country as the form of living tradition. 

Performance: 

Raghunath temple is found in the Odagaon village of Nayagarh.Rama is other wise known as Raghunath. Every where in the country Rama and Lakshman are two handsome god with out beard in their face. But in Raghunath temple both Rama and Lakshman have beard in their faces. The legend runs that the place where the temple is built was the hermitage of sage Atri.Rama while in his forest exile had rested in the ashram of Atri and after spending some days with him he started to Dandakaranya regionx.( Mishra:1981:141-149) 

Similar images of Rama and Lakshman with beard in their face is found in another temple named Biranchi Narayan temple in Buguda village of Ganjam district. 

The Ramaleela of ancient princely states of Orissa has rich heritage in the context of maintaining the Ramaleela institutions through support from the society, even after the royal patronage is stopped. People manage the temple and the tradition of Ramaleela is perpetuated through text and performance in some fixed time of the year. 

Next to the Raghunath temple of Nayagarh which is famous in coastal Orissa, Sri Raghunath temple of Boudh is another instance of tradition bearer of Ramakatha . 

Boudh was a princely state of the pre-independence India. It has a glorious history of the Bhanja Kings .The creation myth of the Bhanja kings reveal that they are the off shoot of Sage Vasistha who was the Kula Guru of the Suryavamsi king of Ayodhya. Accordingly the Bhanja kings of Boudh worship Raghunath as their state deity. 

The Boudh King Jogindra Dev and his descendent Sri Narayan Prasad Dev were famous for pro-people activities. During 1913, queen Keshaba Priya of Boudh Bhanja dynasty built the Sri Raghunath Temple in the capital city of the Boudh. Since then the Ramaleela is performed in front of the Raghunath Temple. Nearer to the Temple there is Ramaswara Temple. Both the temples are important to propagate Hindu culture and the institutions have its own assets of educating the people through staging drama and performing rituals in different times of the year as per the tradition. 

Prior to 1979 the Ramaleela was patronized by the descendents of the royal family. But gradually they were not financially well off .So the Ramaleela Committee constituted a Club to maintain temple as well as to keep up the performance of Ramaleela every year. At that time Ramaleela was performed in the styles of Jhataling,( poetry) then it was written by Raghunath Badamali in Bachanika”( dialogue) form. Sri Hrudanand Meher wrote Ramakatha during 1970s and his rendering is now performed in the Ramaleela as model text. 

Every year the Ramaleela is performed for 18 days starting from Ramnavamee(the birth day of Rama,it falls in the month of April). Annually, the Committee collect about 4 lakhs rupees to organize the Ramaleela.There is a huge ground which is known as Ramaleela padia( ground) an open stage Ramkatha is performed for 18 days. 

The Ramaleela Committee has built a Drama hall (Rehearsal Room as well as practice room and store room) for learning and teaching of Ramaleela. The actors are selected from the interested groups and the writer and drama director use to select the actors and they are taught on playing the different role. The practice room is in the vicinity of the Raghunath Temples. Every day the trisandhya is observed by the performers and priest. 

The Ramaleela Committee has its own assets of dress , costumes, musical instruments, light, sound, costumes, ornaments ,crown and all the necessary materials that is required for the performance of Ramaleela. 

They have masks and dress of jatayu, Jambuban, Hanuman and Ravana etc. which is based on the text of the Ramayana. 

As though Ramaleela is organised in many other places of Orissa, next to Nayagarh , Boud is the grand Ramaleela in the state which has not been drawn attention by any scholars. The Ramaleela Committee has also not taken any efforts to document the performance since they don’t feel the necessity of document them as a heritage culture. The reason being, they observe the ritual performance for the wellbeing of their region. 

Ramaleelaxi in Baudh has some specific features which are worth mentioning. 

  1. The space of Boudh city is imagined as Ayodhya and the river Mahanadi as Ganga . “Marya kud” the island with two villages in the bank of the river Mahanadi is imagined as Mithila Nagari. 

2.The sacred text of the Ramayama is worshipped in front of Goddess Durga during Dasahara and there after the performance group use to open the sacred text for rehearsal and initiate practice of learning. 

  1. Preparation and practice for Ramaleela continues from Dasahara (October) to Ramnavamee festival.(April). 
  2. From Sri Ramanavami all the members take Sanyasa vrata for 18 days. During these days they observe many austerities. They don’t take meat, fish, and tobacco, use oil, eat once in a day, sleep on the floor, etc). 
  3. The Ramaleela takes place for 16 days, followed by two days of preparation and valediction through a procession where ten Ravanas from ten villages take part in the city procession. 
  4. The seven Khanda of Ramayana is divided in to 16 episodes. These are 

Day -1. Ramajanma, 

Day -2. Balya leela and Sibadhanu bhanga 

Day -3. Rama Banavasa 

Day-4.Killing of Khara Dusana, Trisira 

Day -5. Sita Chori 

Day -6. Bali Badha 

Day -7. Lanka Podi. 

Day-8.Setubandh 

Day-9.Nagaphasa bandhana 

Day -10.Kumbhakarna Badha 

Day -11.Taranisen Badha 

Day -12.Indrajeet badha 

Day -13.laxmana Shakti bheda 

Day -14.Mahiravana Badha 

Day -15.Narantaka badha 

Day -16. Ravana badha 

The uniqueness of the Ramaleela performance in Boudh is that the whole space of the contemporary time is stretches away to the time of the Ramayana. Baudh as prototype of Ayodhya, Marya Kuda as Mithila. Mahanadi as river Ganga , people of Baudh as the subject of Ayodhya, the royal family of Baudh as the Suryavamsi kings etc creates the impression of freezing the time by imagining the past in the space of present. 

The most important part of the festival is that the whole city irrespective of Hindu , Muslim and Christians use to celebrate and for last three days of the festival , there is no killing of animals in the city to maintain purity of the space. 

Another important aspect is that in the peripheries of Baudh there are some villages who perform Ramaleela. Ten Ravanas from the ten sides of the city use to come to Baudh in the valediction day and about tem Ravanas from ten villages take part in the procession. More interesting is the burning of Ravana. 

No mask is used in the whole leela except Jambuban. Rest of the actors use to paint the costumes to fit in to their characters.Indigenous colours are used for costumes and paintings. 

Another important agricultural festival nominated to Rama is Ramanavami.It is believed that Rama killed the demon Ravana in the day of Rama Navami.So people make a straw image of Ravana and after the festival is over they set fire on the image.Ramanavami is also associated with the complex ritual process of Srimandira, Sri Jagannath Temple of Puri. 

Sahijata in Puri:xii 

Sahi means a cluster of a city. In Puri there are more than 30 sahi. But there are main seven sahi perform seven Kandas(chapters ) of the Ramayana in performance. Most of the episodes of the Ramayana are performed by the actors. This tradition is exclusive in Puri city which is one of the four dhams of India .Puri as a sacred center has synchronized many sects and religious groups. The Ramayana tradition is also synchronized in the temple of Lord jaganath. Jata is a derived from the word yatra (a religious procession). Sri Rama is worshipped in Srimandira as the incarnation of God Jagannath.This festival begins from the ninth day of bright moon of Chaitra( April), the birth day of Sri Rama and ends till the coronation of Rama on throne of Ayodhya. Only seven sahi around the temple are use to take part in it. Only the strong young men take part in the sahijata in which music dance, acrobatics, and physical exercise are shown during the religious procession. 

The Sahijata is a unique performance of the Ramayana. Seven important episodes are performed by seven clusters. These are 

Day 1: Birth of Sri Rama: South gate of Sri Jagannath Temple (ninth day) Day-2. Risyasringa yatra and Saving of Jajna from the devils (Khara- Dusana) from Harachandi Sahi Day -3. Parasurama Harachandi Sahi Day- 4.Rama’s exile to the forest by Markendeswara Sahi. Day -4. off day Day-5.Illusion of golden deer by Kundheibenta Sahi 

Day-6.Burning of Lanka by Hanuman by Dolamandapa Sahi (in full moon day) 

Besides the staging of Ramaleela another ritual-oral performance is also takes place which is known as Parayana ( Listening Ramayana for at least 7-15 days long through a ritual institution where villagers used to contribute and listen the episodes of the Ramayana in socio- religious congregation. This is run by the villager’s fund. The villages having temple management take care of the Ramayana recitation- weeks. Even it is witnessed that when a maithili Ramayana performance group arrive in Orissa they are invited by the villagers and they retain them for one week to three weeks. 

Some villages conduct this in every year, and some according to their capacity. The written text on the Ramayana is found abundantly in ancient Oriya literature. Interestingly its social function was more that of religious and moral which was influencing the society either by listening the epic or by observing the epic in stage performance. 

Temple forms the part of textual performance of the Ramayana in local setting where the priests and senior people of the village used to manage the prpogramme, and the Purana panda (reciter of the Ramayana in the Parayana) or the Drama Director of Ramaleela use to perform their Ramkatha or Ramaleela in the village. 

When the ancient epic character and their life events are replicated through staging drama, the space and time becomes important in terms of connecting the past with the present. The memory of past validates the present space and time. The Boudh city during Dasahara and Rama Navamee, becomes the replica of Ayudhya and the near by village becomes Mitihla. Local river becomes river Ganga and thus the whole landscape turns in to an illusion of the performance of Ramayana. The actors play different roles of the Ramayana with their mythic dress and costumes. This creates a scene where people from present time are associated with the mythic characters, thereby refresh their memory of the oral narratives that they had listened or learnt from their family or from the Ramayana singers. 

The Ramayana has many episodes that is written and performed for the people. The folk terminology of these episodes is divided into four words. These are ( janama( birth)harana (abduction) Sarana( shelter) marana ( death). It contains the episodes like the Sravana Kumar, Ramajanma, Siva dhanu Bhanga and Sita Bibaha, Rama Banavas, Sita Chori, Meghanadh Badha, Bibhisana Sarana, Rabana badha, Sita banavasa, etc. These episodes are drawn from the main Ramayana and moulded according to the local imagination without distorting the theme of the Ramayana. 

Besides, Ravana Chhaya (shadow puppet show) of Orissa has its unique style of performance which has been studied by Mr. Jeeban Pani. 

Thus Ramakatha appear in new texts and in new performance context ,maintaining its classicity and also its locality, there by identifying the part of greater Indian cultural tradition. 

References: 

i Ramanujan, AK, Three Hundred Ramayanas in The Collected Essays of AK Ramanunjan, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999, pp.133 ii Barber Karin, Text and Performance in Africa, Oral Tradition ,20/2( 2005) 264-277, Ed Foley John Miles, University of Missouri iiiBalabantray, Suresh,Ramaleela Guru:Laxmidhar Dash of Dasapalla Repertory: A Conversation in ANGARAG- a six monthly journal published by MrDinanathPathy,Bhubaneswae 2006 iv Ray Pratibha, Adi Bhumi ( The Primal Land- A novel on the Bonda tribe of Orissa )) by Akhyayika , Cuttack, 1989,pp. 34 v Naik, TB The Tribes of Central India, in Tribal People of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ,Govt. of India New Delhi ( Publication Division)1973, pp.138-141 vi Mishra, MK ,Influence of the Ramayana Tradition in the folklore of Central India 1993, Ramakatha in Tribal and Folk Version, Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta.16 vii Mishra,MK Oral Epics of Kalahandi, 2007, National Folklore Support Center, Chennai ,pp.184 viii Ibid pp.165 

x.Mishra Prasanna Kumar, Folk Myth in Eastern India( Oriya)1983, Orissa, Cuttack, 135 ix Personal Interview with Dr.Basudeb Patra, Reader in Oriya Literature, Panchyat College Boud in September 2008. 

x Mishra Prasanna Kumar, Folk Myth in Eastern India( Oriya)1983, Orissa, Cuttack xi Personal Interview with Dr.Basudeb Patra, Reader in Oriya Literature, Panchyat College Boud in September 2008. xii Mishra , Bansidhar,Sahiyata in Srikshetra (Puri) , in Folk Drama Tradition in Orissa(Oriya )Ed. Rath,Dr.Kartika Chandra Rath,Sahitya Prathisthan, Cuttack, 2001 pp.314 

Note : I conducted a field visit in the month of September 13-14 , 2008 to Baudh Ramaleela Committee and had interaction with the committee .I had a three hours of discussion relating to the documentation of Ramaleela. The team has a film director along with the writer, drama director, music director and stage managers. They have a strong net work of Ramaleela in ten- fifteen villages. They have maintained the organization as the propagator of Indian culture without any interruption since last 1913 and now moving towards concretizing the organisation. 

Bio data of Dr Mahendra Kumar Mishra Dr Mahendra Kumar Mishra is a resident from Kalahandi. Since last 25 years he has worked on folklore and tribal culture of Orissa.His major publication are Visioning Folklore (2002 Folklore of western Orissa ) Saura Folklore ( 2005, Sahitya Academy)and Oral Epics of Kalahandi2008 ( national Folklore support Center, Chennai) .Dr Mishra has been awarded by Orissa Sahitya Academy for his work Folklore of Kalahandi. Since last two decades, He has translated Kalevala, the national Finnish Epic in to Oriya, also, AKRamanujan’s Folktales from India. 

At present Dr Mishra is working on Multilingual Education Programme in Orissa adopting ten tribal languages and his current areas of interest is application of folklore in school curriculum to create culturally responsive schools. 

E mail:mkmfolk@gmail.com 

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