I’m so happy that I’m finally making some progress on a project that’s very dear to my heart. For my final project of my creative writing certificate that I’m doing at the University of Toronto, I’m doing my own poetic version of the Ramayana, an ancient Hindu epic that has been in people’s minds and hearts for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. This story has been told orally for countless generations, as well as in written form – poems, stories, books, and in plays, movies, and TV series. The story is known in many languages and cultures throughout the world. It is the world’s oldest poem, composed by sage Valmiki, and told in perfect Sanskrit meter, in 24,000 verses. (Hmmm, interesting that the number of verses is similar to the number of words I have to write!).
I first became fascinated with this story in 2012, when I quit my job to pursue my creative interests, and had some time to spend with my soul. Through my meditations and solitude, parts of this story were revealed to me, and being the curious person I am, I sought out all different versions of the story that I could find, from Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues (animated film with a feminist twist), to the 2008 teleseries, to Ramesh Menon’s book The Ramayana.
The project is to write between 20,000 and 25,0000 words, which will then be edited by my mentor Ranjini George (instructor from U of T), and then presented to a panel. I have so many ideas! Sometimes they flow, and sometimes they get stuck. I’m excited about the prospect of learning more of the story as I write it, and coming up with ways to render it on the page that brings it to life for modern readers. I think it’s amazing that a story that is 7000 years old is still relevant today! As you read about Rama and Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, Dasharatha and his three wives, the monkey army, the evil Ravana, and the magical creatures throughout Ayodhya, Lanka, and the enchanting land of ancient India, it will alight parts of you that you didn’t know existed, and awaken that magical element that each of us possesses, but sometimes gets pushed down or hidden in our busy lives.
Next week I’ll be volunteering at a summer camp at the Sai Centre of Ottawa, based on the teachings of the Ramayana. I’m sure I’ll glean lots of knowledge from the experience! It will be interesting to see how children relate to the story and what kinds of questions they have.
I’m aiming to have the project completed by early next year. I technically have up to August 2019 to complete the certificate, but am hoping to get it done before then! Wish me luck!