Days after the magnificent celebration of Diwali across the country, a photograph featuring two men and a woman dressed up as Hindu deities Ram, Sita and Lakshman, is going viral on social media platforms. Those who shared the image claim that it shows “Russian actors who performed in Ramlila in Ayodhya.” Several social media users also took this opportunity to lambast at “self-proclaimed Bollywood stars,” who they alleged “don’t even know a thing about our culture & end up insulting Hindu Gods & Goddesses in their 2 rupees movie. (sic).”
Newschecker found the claim to be untrue. Though Russian artists did perform Ramlila in Ayodhya, the viral photograph does not feature them.
The photograph is going viral on Twitter.
Several Facebook users also shared the image.
Commonly considered as the birthplace of Lord Ram, Ayodhya holds a special and sacred place in the Hindu mythology. The festival of Diwali, which marks the homecoming of Ram, Sita and Lakshman after 14 years of exile, witnesses a grand celebration across India, and specifically in Ayodhya. This year a new Guinness World Record for the ‘largest display of oil lamps’ was set when more than 15.76 lakh earthen lamps were lit at the ‘Ram ki Paidi’ during the Yogi government’s Deepotsav celebrations in the city on Diwali’s eve.
We began our investigation by conducting a keyword search for “Ramlila, “Ayodhya” & “Russian Actors” on Google which yielded a report by Times of India, dated October 23, 2022, titled ‘Deepotsav: Russian artistes to perform Ramlila.’
Displaying photographs of Russian actors portraying characters from the Ramayana, the article stated, “the Deepotsav is turning out to be a global platform for artists, with the Yogi government providing the stage to international performers from eight countries. Among them will be a troupe of 12 Russian artists who will be performing the Ramlila.”
The report also featured an image showing Russian actors Alexei Fleyjanikav as Laxman, Ildar Khushnilin as Lord Rama and Milana Bychonek as Sita. The trio featured in this image did not resemble the actors seen in the viral photograph.
The Department of Culture, Uttar Pradesh also shared a newspaper clipping featuring the same image. In a tweet, dated October 23, 2022 , it wrote, “The Padma Shri Gennady Mikhailovich Pechnikov Memorial Ramlila was held in association of Disha: India-Russia Friendship Society of Moscow at the Deepotsav.Alexei Fleyjanikav as Laxman; Lidar Khushnilin as Lord Ram and Milana Bychonek as Sita staged the Russian Ramlila.”
Multiple news outlets carried visuals of Ramlila by the Russian artists in Ayodhya. However, none of the actors seen in these reports looked similar to the trio-seen in the viral picture. Such reports can be seen here, here and here.
We could thus conclude that though Russian artists portrayed the roles of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman at this year’s Ramlila in Ayodhya, the viral photograph doesn’t feature them.
Newschecker continued our investigation to ascertain the whereabouts of the viral photograph, and conducted a Google reverse image search which led us to a post by Chitkara University, Himachal Pradesh, dated October 27, 2022, on Facebook.
The post featured another version of the viral photograph in which UP CM Yogi Adityanath can be seen escorting the Ramayana trio and identified the woman portraying “Devi SIta” as University’s alumnus Shivya Pathania.
Notably, the search also led us to a report by News18, dated October 24, 2022. It carried the image with the caption, “Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with artists dressed as Hindu deities Ram, Sita and Laxman during Deepotsav celebrations, on the eve of the Diwali festival, in Ayodhya.”
Following this, we looked up “Shivya Pathania” on Google which threw up her verified Instagram Account. The actress recently shared some pictures from Deepotsav 2022 in which she can be seen dressed as the Hindu deity and wrote, “…Thank God that I got this opportunity To be able to portray Devi Sita in Ayodhya on Diwali welcomed with a Raj Tilak done by our country’s Prime Minister….
Pathania also shared a video showing the trio from the viral image seated on a stage, while PM Modi and CM Yogi reach out to perform Lord Rama’s Rajyabhishek.
Pathania is an Indian actress who is known for her roles in Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush (2019), Dil Dhoondta Hai (2017) and Shoorveer (2022).
Notably, the actress had tagged an event management company ‘Friends Event’ by Shiva Pandey and Gunjan Rajput, in one of her Instagram posts. Taking a clue, we looked up Friends Event’s official Instagram account who had also shared a post featuring a series of pictures from the Deepotsav.
Following this, Newschecker reached out to Friends Event who confirmed to us that all the three actors seen in the viral photograph were Indians. Actor Gagan Malik portrayed the role of Lord Rama, Shivya Pathania of Sita and Nishant of Lakshman.
Further, we looked up Gagan Malik’s official Instagram account and found another version of the viral photograph.
We could thus conclude that the viral photograph features Indian artists who portrayed the roles of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman as a part of events during Deepotsav celebrations in Ayodhya. It does not show Russian actors who performed Ramlila in the city.
The event was live streamed on UP Government’s official YouTube channel on October 23, 2022
Viral post claiming to show the Russian actors who performed in Ramlila in UP’s Ayodhya is false.
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