Second International Ramayana Conference, June 4-5 at Illinois
Ramayana in the global context
By Alpana Thakur
The International Ramayana Institute of North America, in cooperation with the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) in Northern Illinois University (NIU) organised a Second International Ramayana Conference on ?Ramayana in the Global Context? on June 4-5, 2005 in the university campus at DeKalb, Illinois, located 65 miles west of Chicago.
This conference, held at the Holmes Students Centre of NIU at the corner of Carroll and Lucinda Avenues, included presentations on various themes and Ramayana-based workshops. The main objectives of the conference were to show the common threads running through Asian-American communities to promote goodwill among themselves and to foster interaction on Ramayana-related studies between various universities and academic institutions worldwide, besides promoting better understanding of each other'scultural traditions. On the first day, the opening remarks at the conference were made by Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and Dean of the Graduate School, Northern Illinois University, Susan Russell, director, Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University and Subhash Pandey, president, International Ramayana Institute of North America. Judy Ledgerwood of Northern Illinois University and Sally Sutherland Goldman from Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley made the introductory comments on the topic ?The Not-So-Perfect Wife: Valmiki'sConstruction of Gender?.
In the first session on ?The Gender and Political Aspects of Ramayana?, Bijoy Misra of MIT Lincoln Laboratory spoke on the Portrayal of Sita by Valmiki? whereas independent researcher, Tin Tin Aye, expressed her views on ?Perfection and Imperfection of the Women in the Ramayana?. Ledger-wood chaired this session. Pornrat Damrhung of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok (Thailand) voiced his thoughts on the topic of ?Women'sRoles in Ramakien and their Place in Thai Classroom, on Thai Stage, and in Thai Popular Culture?. Dinesh Prasad Saklani, H.N.B., Garhwal University (India) spoke on the subject ?The Question of Gender Issue and Valmiki'sRamayana? whereas Usha Devi Shukla from University of Kwa Zulu, Natal (South Africa) shed light on the ?Female Characters in the Ramayana?.
On the second day, Anil Trivedi of International Ramayana Institute of North America (USA) chaired the first session on ?Ramayana'sAcceptance in Different Countries?. In this session, Dharam Pal Arya of Gurukul Kangri University explained the ?Impact of Ramayana on the Unity and Harmony among Different Communities Worldwide? whereas Ampuan Haj Ibrahim from University of Brunei, Dar-as-salam highlighted the ?Brunei Version of Hikayat Seri Rama?.
Satya Vrat Shastri of University of Delhi expressed his views on ?Sita?How She is Depicted in the Rama Story of South-east Asia? and Sherry-Ann Singh of University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (Trinidad) presented her views on the ?Ramayana Tradition in Trinidad?, whereas, Alan Potkin, Cultivate Understanding Multimedia and Catherine Raymond, Northern Illinois University (USA) spoke on ?The Foiled Revenge of Queen Nang Soudsada, in the Phralak-Phralam: The Lao Ramayana.? In the second session, Dinesh Saklani of HNB Garhwal University chaired the session on ?Education and Learning Related to Ramayana?. The US-based independent researcher, Ramen Nandi, spoke on ?Studies on the Antiquity of Ramayana?.