Funded by Ford foundation

Funded by the Ford Foundation

In 2008, Adishakti applied for a grant to the Ford Foundation, requesting support for a three year project from April 2008 to March 2011, focused on the Ramayana, around which performance, performers, experts from other fields and academics attempted to throw up new knowledge in the field. The Ramayana is increasingly becoming a vexed text in our times and the objective was to allow the many voices in and around it to find release and expression in new performance, film, papers, discussions etc.


Adishakti had engaged intermittently with the Ramayana before this grant request was made.  In 1979, Adishakti’s artistic Director Veenapani Chawla performed in, and directed Snehalata Reddy’s Sita. In 2003 shadow puppeteer L. Rajjapa became a residential member of Adishakti. Rajjapa’s oeuvre was based on the Kamban Ramayana, and Adishakti viewed his performances at least once a week. In 2007 Adishakti hosted Sanskrit scholar Arshia Sattar’s Workshop on the Ramayana with Indian Painters and her Workshop on the text with students from Earlham School, USA. The idea of exploring the Ramayana in performance and life came out of conversations with Arshia Sattar.

Apart from being the source for the text of many traditional and folk performance forms, the Ramayana has also inspired many contemporary expressions and is as well the cause of great social and political debate currently. This debate indicates that there is a real danger of the text being levelled out by mono-dimensional interpretations. There is therefore a need to allow the many voices contained in it and around it to be released and for different points of view on it to surface.

Such an exercise:

A) Also provided the traditional / folk/ contemporary performer with a new approach to an old text and thereby compel her to re create her performance language, making it aesthetically accessible to a contemporary world.

B) Released new knowledge and rescue an old cultural symbol from being suffocated by “purism”.

The Process

Over the three years of the Foundation’s support, Adishakti:

  • Created new performance pieces with its own team, based on the Ramayana. These were showcased at the end of the three years.
  • Created and hosted 6 programmes around the Ramayana on its campus.
  • Started work on creating a film on an incident in the Ramayana.
  • Collaborated with well-known Sanskrit scholar and Ramayana translator Arshia Sattar and dramaturge and thinker Rustom Bharucha in creating festivals and seminars on the epic, over the three years of the programme.

Please click on the following links for more details on the project and the events conducted as a part of the programme:

The Ramayana Project

The Ramayana Festival 2009

The Ramayana Festival 2010

The Ramayana Festival 2011

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