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Mumbai - The K J Somaiya Institute of Dharma Studies, a constituent unit of Somaiya Vidyavihar University, Mumbai hosted an international conference on ‘Reflections on the Ramayana’, in collaboration with Central Sanskrit University, New Delhi, Ayodhya Research Institute, Department of Culture, U. P. Government, Lucknow and K J Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce, Mumbai from 2nd February to 4th February at Somaiya Vidyavihar, Mumbai.

Hon. Shri. Chandrakant Patil, Minister of Higher and Technical Education, Govt. of Maharashtra inaugurated the Conference. Prof. Shrinivasa Varakhedi, Vice Chancellor of Central Sanskrit University, New Delhi was the Chief Guest. The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Molly Kaushal, Mission Director, National Mission on Cultural Mapping, New Delhi.

The 3-day conference brought together scholars who had worked on the Ramayana in its classical as well as folk forms in Bharat and Southeast Asia. The highlight of the conference was an entire session dedicated to the Ramayana in North-East Bharat and papers as well as performances of the folk forms of Maharashtra. Two papers focussed on visual representations miniature paintings as well as paintings from Persian literature. There were also papers on the Jaina Ramayana and the adaptation of the epic in Muslim traditions of South Asia. The conference also had comparative studies of Valmiki’s composition with the Thai Ramayana and Kamban’s Ramavataram.

The deliberations brought into clear focus how the deeply loved epic had crossed boundaries of language, culture, religion, geography and genre.

An unusual and vibrant dimension of the conference was the performance of an adaptation of the Sanskrit play Pratima by the Somaiya Centre for Performing Arts and a shadow theatre performance by a family from Pinguli village, in Kudal district of Maharashtra, who have preserved this tradition for 5 generations. In addition there were film screenings and discussions with the filmmakers that enhanced the learning experience for all participants.

Dr Supriya Rai, Director, K J Somaiya Institute of Dharma Studies, says, “The conference was really a reflection on the marvellous retelling of the Ramakatha across cultures, bringing to the fore how different communities had made Rama their own. It brought home the need to appreciate these traditions on their own terms, in their own contexts.”

Shri Samir Somaiya, President, Somaiya Vidyavihar, says, “The Ramayana is perhaps one of the greatest stories of all time. Every single version of the story had a distinctive outlook, which needs to be heard by a larger audience. Reflections on the Ramayana certainly succeeded in bringing out these little-known stories into the limelight.”


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