What is the cultural significance of the folk Ramayana songs? Discuss with reference to Paula Richman’s text.

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Answer: The Ramayana exists in a variety of forms and texts, both textual and oral. The Ramayana is associated with Valmiki and the Sanskrit book credited to this mythical author by educated upper caste men. The Ramayana, on the other hand, is not an epic fiction produced by the great teacher Valmiki for the Brahmin ladies of South India: it is genuine, and it occurred.

These women sing distinct songs on the events of the Ramayana, some of which are long and others of which are brief. The songs are generally sung in secret meetings, mainly in the backyards of Brahmin homes, where males are not allowed to enter. There are around twenty-five distinct songs that are widely sung. They make up an epic plot that is fairly related.

The Brahmin ladies that perform these songs are often between the ages of 35 and 70. They hail from traditional homes and are literate yet unschooled. Women from similar backgrounds, mainly cousins and neighbours, make up their audience. Children, unmarried young ladies, and freshly married brides are among those who have come to their moms’ house for a celebratory event. Frequently, a wedding or other similar event provides an opportunity for a group of ladies to get together. Women from different castes are not included in the audience. The singing normally takes place in the late afternoon, after the family’s midday meal, when the males have all retreated to the front of the home.

Traditions in Deshi and Margi

Although we recognise that the Ramayana is a living literature that belongs to a certain culture, we also recognise that the text has a broad appeal. The Sanskrit terms Deshi and Margi mean “country” and “direction,” respectively. The Ramayana songs deal with “deshi” culture and customs, yet they are successful in offering guidance to everybody; it is more than a book or a text; it is a way of life. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, these songs have had a profound and lasting impact on people’s minds.


What is the cultural significance of the folk Ramayana songs? Discuss with reference to Paula Richman’s text.


The Ramayana and Indian Culture and Tradition

The Ramayana and Mahabharata are not just heroic tales; they also represent the socio-religious aspirations of India’s Hindus, who number in the millions. Rama and Krishna are believed to be manifestations of God, and their practises are considered divine by Hindus. They are revered at temples and remembered during times of national and personal stress. The Gita was a major source of inspiration for India’s independence struggle. Many Indians’ mentality is coloured by its philosophy of performing labour without expecting a result. The figures in the Ramayana and Mahabharata embody the feelings of Indians, and the lessons of these two great epics are passed down through generations.

Ramayana’s significance

) The Ramayana covers a wide range of topics in man’s existence, including love, obedience to superiors, betrayal, parental devotion, selflessness, and so on.

) In the Ramayana, these characters represent love, charity, patriotism, conjugal love, parental obedience, self-sacrifice, and other virtues.

) Sita and Urmila are idealised female figures.

) Ravana’s character demonstrates how a man may destroy himself due to his own follies and nefarious desires.

) Dussehra is a major Hindu holiday that is observed throughout India. Rama’s triumph over Ravana is the subject of the event.

)Ram Navami is a huge celebration that takes place over most of North India.

Each song’s structure is reminiscent of the Brahmin house’s building. The males are in charge in the front. At the house’s main entryway, all of the house’s traditional male-dominated values rule supreme. The inside of the home, particularly the back section, is, nonetheless, a woman’s domain. They are somewhat free in that location, away from their men’s chastising gaze. They have complete control over their life in that region, and males are mocked for ever approaching it. This concept is perfectly replicated in the song structure.

Each song opens with a polite homage to Rama, the ruler. Rama is not the God in these songs, as he is in the devotional Ramayanas. He is the yajamani, the housemaster, but one who is not entirely in charge. The tunes move with remarkable freedom if the intro is appropriately created. The majority of the people who live in the songs’ interiors are women. Lakshmana, the younger brother-in-law, and Lava and Kusa, the young twins, are among the males who gain the same freedom as the women in this area.

Despite their independence, the songs’ language is quite soft and feminine. There are no obnoxious words or abrasive diction. Everything is tasteful and fitting for the occasion. These songs, on the other hand, vividly express both the emotions and the difficulties of a mixed family. Women in mixed families experience considerable internal tensions behind the surface of the house’s seeming tranquilly. Movements from one area to the next, as well as interactions between individuals, are thoroughly observed and tracked. The usage of words in the songs reveals a similar vibe. The overall tone of the language is deceptively soft, with the syllables blending in a pleasing manner. The use of gentle Dravidian language, rather than Sanskrit, lends an ideal mood of serenity and happiness to the texture of the songs. The underlying implications, on the other hand, depict a mood of repressed tensions, veiled eroticism, and thwarted emotional satisfaction. Words flew out like sharp darts at times, hitting their targets with pinpoint accuracy. Every character is mocked under the guise of family comedy. No one is perfect, and no one truly loves the other. Even Sita’s ideal virginity might be questioned. Ravana’s big toe is a hidden reference to his genital organ, which she depicts in her artwork. Under the guise of denouncing Rama’s exile of Sita, the family’s daughters-in-law pretend that they are all in love with Ravana. Sita’s yearning is represented through surrogates in this way. The image that emerges is not of a perfect Ramayana with an ideal husband, wife, and brothers, but of a complicated joint family in which everyone mistrust the other, lies to the other, and lives in a perpetual state of tension and dread, tempered by love and devotion. In some aspects, the Ramayana songs represent a protest against the bhakti Ramayanas, which exalt the established values of a male-dominated culture. The lesser and lower characters emerge as winners in these texts. Urmila, Lakshman, the twin boys, Santa, and even Surpanakha have the opportunity to avenge themselves. Sita does not fight her own struggle by herself. Others are fighting on her behalf. She even relishes the newfound independence brought about by the announcement of her death. For the first time in her life, she was free to enjoy her life without thinking about Rama. Sita silently gives birth to sons and waits for her final victory over Rama, achieved through her agents, her sons, as Rama prepares for her funeral rituals, tormented by the guilt of having her slaughtered unjustly.