Ravana Goes Designer

Fashion design students infuse new meaning in Ravana's costumes for Ramlila this year

The costumes in a Ramlila have been the same old for years now — blingy and stereotypical. Dressed in silk (or are those satin) dhotis with kurta-shirts made from equally shiny fabric offset with large shoulder pads, chunky crowns and other accessories, it's costume drama in the literal sense. And in some ways Ravana seems like the ideal contender for a makeover. Undertaking this task as part of their "Project Dashagriva", 16 fashion design students of the Inter National Institute of Fashion Design (INIFD) researched on Ravana and designed a new costume for him. It will be worn by Sunil Sharma, who essays the role of Ravana in the Parade Ground Ramlila in Sector 17.

At first glance, it's noticeable how the outfit is not overly flamboyant. The design, explain the students, signifies "four Vedas, six shastras and 10 heads earned by Ravana". It also highlights the life of Ravana, who was also a big devotee of Shiva and a scholar. The students — Manoj Kumar, Vishvajeet Mann, Gurpreet Bajwa, Swati Nagpal, Pankaj Prabhakar, Amit Chauhan, Divpreet Kaur, Damini Sawhney, Virender Kumar, Monica, Malika Sharma, Karisma Rehlan, Kamaljeet Brar and Shivang Sharma — have worked to show a balance of his good and evil side. The other elements of the costume include the metal engraving work done by the students to make emblems and symbols studded with crystals, incorporated in various parts of the costume. Golden emblems of Shiva, Kaal and Kuber along with lotus symbols and ornate armbands add to the look of the unique ensemble.

The front of the dress showcases Shiva and the waist belt has been designed to depict Kuber. Ravana, explain the students, was an expert in all 64 art forms which have been depicted on his robe as red velvet circles with lotus symbols. The nine lotuses in the centre depict the nine moods of Ravana in descending order of sizes showing that selfishness was the most prevalent mood in his personality and fear was the least. While the Ramlila audience might not get to see the effort in the new outfit, but for the students it's a project well done.

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