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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Ramalila, RAmalilA, Raamalilaa

Rāmalilā literally means ‘enactment of Rāma story’.

Significance of Rāmacaritamānasa

If the Rāmāyana of Vālmīki has made the story and the personality of Rāma immortal, the Rāmacaritamānasa of Tulasīdāsa[1] has brought Rāma to every home and heart.

Beginning of Rāmalilā Enactment

This tradition of enactment is known as Rāmalīlā. It is believed that Tulasīdāsa himself started this during his life-time. In other parts of North India, the same is celebrated as the victory of the good over the evil, by burning the effigies of Rāvaṇa, Kumbhakarṇa and Meghanāda or Indrajit.

Enacting of Rāmalilā

Kāśī[2] and Rāmnagar[3] are the places where these scenes are enacted. The Mahārājā[4] of the erstwhile kingdom of Kāśī was the chief patron. His descendants are continuing the tradition even now.

Rāmalilā in Uttarpradesh

During the Dasarā festival[5] in some parts of Uttar Pradesh the story of the Rāmacaritamānasa is enacted by experienced rural actors. Almost all the important incidents from it are shown in different places with appropriate settings.


  1. Tulasīdāsa lived in A. D. 1532-1623.
  2. Kāśī is the Vārāṇasī.
  3. Rāmnagar is a town very near Kāśī.
  4. Mahārājā means king.
  5. It is the same festival as Navarātri or Śarannavarātri.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore