The nine-day Navratri culminates in Dussehra and people are eagerly awaiting the events of Ramlila. Each year, as the evenings lengthen and the nights fill with the sweet scent of the “ saptaparni ” tree, the parks and open spaces of northern India come to life with lights and sound. by Ramlila. This October is different. Joy is absent as most of Ramlila’s performances have been canceled or recorded for digital viewing. It will be a form of telling the epic of good overcoming evil with the dos and don’ts of a pandemic. So, Ram undergoes a corona test at birth, the bow of Shiva is sanitized in the scene of Sita swayamvar and Bharat is behind a mask when he meets Ram in the “Bharat Milap” sequence at Vishnu Avatar Ramlila Committee’s version of the mythological tale in Delhi’s Shastri Park.
“We tried to make sure that our Ramlila was not canceled for not following rules. With these changes in the story, we are also raising awareness,” said Prempal Singh, head of the avatar committee. from Vishnu, to the PTI news agency. The lights flash to the beat of the music adding to the atmosphere of terror and drama as always and the actors are dressed in character. But it’s Ramlila in a new avatar with fewer performers on stage and some even wearing PPE kits.
“In the stages where we had 20 performers earlier, only five or ten are on the stage now. Likewise, in the audience, there are fewer chairs, placed six feet apart. At the entrance, we will distribute disinfectants and masks to all visitors, ”added Singh.
The Shastri Park committee is among the few to adapt quickly to its time. With formal guidelines for organizing Ramlila in the city announced only on October 11, just a week before the nine-day theatrical production began, most organizers were unable to secure the required licenses and permissions on time.
“We had made some little preparations in advance, like reserving a place and erecting the tent, having the coronavirus tests done on the crew. And after the directives were announced, we worked day and night to get all the permissions, ”Singh added.
Sanskriti Kala Sangam, which has provided actors, dancers and a support team to organizers for 15 years, did not receive any invites from anywhere this year, so its director Yash Chauhan decided to tell the story through the digital media. Sangam has performed in places like Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Meerut, and Rohtak over the years. Mr. Chauhan, who finished filming his performance of the Ramayana on the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi a few days ago with a limited number of actors, broadcasts the Ramlila on YouTube and Facebook for four days from Thursday to Dussehra on October 25. managed to shoot Ramlila in accordance with the directives of the Ministry of the Interior.
“How can we maintain social distance on stage? How can you show Bharat Milap without Ram and Bharat hugging each other,” Mr. Chauhan asked. The Ramayana episode shows Bharat trying to persuade his older brother Ram to return to Ayodhya after his exile and take his rightful position as the new king. Mr. Chauhan also complained about the lack of live hearing.
“Yes, we will receive comments and ‘likes’ on our videos, but that can’t be compared to the sound of applause from hundreds of people. Every applause increases our excitement on stage. This instant recognition of our craft is missing , ”Mr. Chauhan said.
Mandi House’s Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra (SBKK) also managed to stage the “ Sampoorna Ramlila ” for the 64th year by accommodating the crew in a hostel and testing them for COVID-19 every fortnight. “We have continued to rehearse for the past two months without thinking about the possibility of it being canceled. We were continually screened for infection, maintained social distancing and stayed in a hostel instead of coming home every day, ”said Rajkumar Sharma, who plays the role of Ram at SBKK’s Ramayana.
Another large-scale Ramlila is being held on the banks of the Saryu River in Ayodhya, which worshipers consider Ram’s birthplace. Famous ‘Ayodhya ki Ramlila’, broadcast on Doordarshan, YouTube and other social media platforms, sees Delhi BJP MP and actor Manoj Tiwari play the role of Angad (Ram’s envoy) , Gorakhpur MP BJP and actor Ravi Kishan playing Bharat. and Vindu Dara Singh playing the role of Hanuman. Many organizers criticized the Delhi government for not giving them enough time to prepare.