Thursday, October 22, 2015

Selfie contest and causes also mark this year's Ramlilas

Education, women empowerment and even an all-kids' Ramlila ­ these are some highlights of the different adaptations of the Ramayana being staged around the country
With Dussehra just round the corner, Ramlila groups are gearing up to put their best foot forward. Some have decided to add a bit of a tadka to their plays to bring in the numbers. From highlighting causes to roping in only child artistes, there are a lot of firsts at the Ramlilas this year.
The organizers of the Shree Ramlila Samiti, one of the oldest Ramlila in Lucknow, has decided to design the model of demon king Ravana to raise their voice against cow slaughter in India. The 123-feet tall effigy will be draped in garments that feature slogans in support of the cause.Additionally , in order to create a better audiovisual impact, they are making use of LED screens and digital lights on stage. “The idea is to create a movie theatre experience for our audience. One can see the mixture of real as well as virtual world in our Ramlila,“ says Bhaskar Bose, the director of the play , which has 70 actors coming from Kolkata to enact the play this time, like in the past.

At the age of 9, when most of her friends are enjoying watching Ramlila as an audience, Jaya is busy playing the character of Sita on stage.The 47th Ramlila of Shri Shishu Bal Ramlila Samiti will have only kids below 18 enacting characters from the Ramayana. The oldest actor, Shahsank Bharti, playing the character of Lakshman, is 18 years old and pursuing Hotel Management. Ashish Tandon, a committee member, tells us, “This is the first time we have involved children in our Ramlila. The idea is to familiarize the younger generation with age old traditions. We want to encourage children who are keen on acting to participate in the Ramlila.“

Another Ramlila group will have only girls participating in it for the first time. The youngest participant, all of two, is playing the role of young Lord Ram, whereas the eldest is 14 years old. KN Chandola, organiser of the Ramlila, informs, “Girls are relatively more attached to their traditions, therefore I encouraged them to take part in the Ramlila. Our other motive is also to promote the cause of women empowerment.“

Holding their 60th Ramlila this year, the Shri Trilokeshwar Nath Mandir and Ramlila Samiti has decided to organise a `Selfie with Book' competiton on their Facebook page.Ramesh Kumar Lodhi, secretary of the Samiti, explains the concept, “Every year, we normally organise a drawing competition for children of classes I to XII, but since this is our 60th Ramlila, we wanted to do something different. Hence, the selfie competition where anyone can click a picture of theirs with a book. He further adds, “We chose a `Selfie with Book' theme because it is a medium to spread education in society .“

At the Ramlila Samiti and Nitya Parishad, the role of Sita is being played by a boy. In fact, it's mostly the boys who play all the key characters, including the female ones. Without wanting to disclose his name, the 17-year-old boy who is playing the role of Sita, tells us, “I have been playing the role for the past five years and now it does not feel awkward any more. Since the girls of our colony are not allowed to participate in the Ramlila, this leaves us with no option but to enact the part of women characters also.“

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