Ramayana is well known across Asia with versions in Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia that predate many of the well-known written Indian versions. While they have elements in common with Valmiki, the differing environments in which they emerged have led to the addition of distinctive cultural features and characters. Across Asia Ramayana has been represented in a range of artistic forms such as theatre, film, dance, sculpture and painting. For many Indians, it is not through reading, but through the visual arts and storytelling that they become familiar with the story. Ramlila, for example, is an annual 10-day re-enactment of the Ramayana performed in villages all over India to commemorate the autumn festive period. In 2005 it was named by Unesco as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity, reminding us of its historical importance as an oral story told in performance as well as a written text, and ensuring that its presence is sustained. (Daljit, 2013).
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