This week’s creative theme is “Light”, in celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights of Hindu, Sikh and Jain religious traditions.
The lights are lit to guide Rama and his wife Sita safely home after their exile.
The story is recounted in the Ramayana, an epic poem that dates from between the fourth and first century BCE. That is to say that the written version dates from then, there is little doubt that it was transcribed from oral traditions that are much older. The Ramayana has inspired, and continues to inspire, countless retellings and variations including plays and shadow puppet shows as well as film and TV versions.
It is a huge poem but a very simple summation is that it concerns the travails of Rama (who in some versions is the god Vishnu in corporeal form) who, with his beautiful wife Sita and his brother Laksmana, is forced into exile by his wicked stepmother. In the forest, Sita is abducted by the demonic , multi-headed king Ravana. Rama forms an alliance with the monkey god Hanuman and with an army of monkeys and bears defeats and kills Ravana. When they return to Rama’s rightful kingdom the way is lit for them and so lights commemorate the defeat of evil and the triumph of good.
There is a little more detail here https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/blogs/happy-diwali/ including that Sita is tested for her chasity (as she has spent a year as Ravana’s captive) she passes Rama’s test but is not believed by the people of the kingdom and is forced into exile again.
So not such a happy ending. The Shakespeare Trust naturally enough draws parallels with Shakespeare’s plays but it reminds me much more of Homer’s Odyssey with Penelope fending off the suitors in her husband Odysseus’s absence (not to mention the mixed cast of heroes, gods and monsters (and various hybrids). As, at least as oral traditions, these epics would have been told at the same time, it is hard not to wonder if they influenced each other.
Prompts: Light can be literal, lights at night perhaps leading you home like Rama and Sita, or metaphorical: seeing the light at the end of the tunnel or a moment of “enlightenment.” Light comes from the sun, moon, stars, streetlights ( originating in Battery Point power station at the moment ) or headlights – and here, of course, we also sometimes have the northern lights.