Searching for Sita

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Summer camp 2018 culminated in well-prepared public drama performances. Children who took part in the happenings had lots of fun, humour and laughter while rehearsing and acting. This was reported by all village coordinators. The summer camp was a collaboration between Amrita CREATE and Amrita SeRVe. Tuition teachers, health workers and village coordinators started to organize drama preparations 13 days before the camp commenced.

An excerpt of the Ramayana – Sundarakand – was chosen for the play. With the help of teachers and parents, all props and costumes were made at almost zero budget. Village coordinator Deeksha Mehra from Punjab mentioned that when the rehearsal started, all children wanted to participate as audience too.

When acting a scriptural story, there is much learning involved as well. Values and virtues are discussed while rehearsing: there is a scene where Hanuman is reminded of his powers and he is told that he can do anything if he decides. Then Hanuman tells Ravan that he is being non-virtuous by kidnapping Sita, Rama’s wife. He further warns the ruler that this sin will destroy him. This way the children will get to learn important values with fun and ease.

There are many benefits to a setting like this. Firstly, while performing characters, it helps children to relate better to our Indian culture. Secondly, the children get experience in performing before an audience. Furthermore, rehearsing and memorizing dialogues trains their memory. Lastly, since it is required that all participants discuss together, rehearse together and perform together, they learn to work as a team.

This is how the drama was told:

First scene: Hanuman discovering his strength

Sundarakand is known as the most beautiful story of the Ramayana, telling the tale of Lord Hanuman’s quest to find Mata (Mother) Sita. Lord Hanuman was unaware of his power and strength until Jambvant praised him and reminded him of his supreme strength. This is the point when he decided to start his voyage to search Mata Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravan.

Second scene: Hanuman crossing the Ocean

When the ocean realized that Hanuman, Lord Rama’s messenger, is attempting to cross the ocean, he advised Mainak to rise from the bottom the sea such that Sri Hanuman could rest on the mountain. Though Hanuman was very thankful to Mainak’s offer, he did not rest as he thought, it was an obstacle on his journey.

Third scene: The Meeting of Lord Hanuman and Mata Sita

When Hanuman arrives before Mata Sita, he explains to her how the Lord will come soon to release her from Ravana’s custody. With Sita’s permission, Hanuman then eats fruit from Ashoka Vatika and also uproots many trees.

Fourth scene: Lord Hanuman meeting Ravan

Lord Hanuaman creates vast devastation and kills many demons, including Akshaykumara. The irritated Ravana then sends his son Meghnath to tackle the monkey god. He uses against Hanuman, Brahmastra and Naagpash, extremely powerful celestial weapons, to shoot him and tie him down. Meghnath then takes Hanuman to the court of Ravana. Hanuman warns Ravana to release Sita that she may return to Lord Rama and thereby live in peace forever. However, instead of listening to Hanuman, the fiery Ravana orders to burn the monkey god’s tail.

Fifth and last scene: Lord Hanuman burns Lanka

When Ravana orders to teach the monkey a lesson and burn his tail, Hanuman keeps on increasing in size. It is said that a lot of cloth and oil was required to burn the tail. Finally, when Lord Hanuman’s tail was set ablaze, he decreased his size and burnt Lanka with this relentless fire. This is how Lanka was burnt to ground in the epic tale of Sundarakand of the Ramayana.

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