Ramlila festivities in Old Delhi have all the time been an elaborate, syncretic effort, however this yr owing to the pandemic, no celebrations will happen. The grounds at Red Fort, which might host three Ramlilas, put on a abandoned look. The streets that will come alive with processions together with Ramji ki Baraat, are devoid of all cheer. Even as tips to carry the occasion have been issued, committee members rue that they’ve come a bit of too late within the day.
“Preparations begin one month in advance. How is this possible in 4-5 days’ time? Not only the stage and seating area, there are hundreds of minute details that go into making a successful Ramlila. We could have even done it symbolically, without inviting the public, but there isn’t time. Even if the SOPs were given to us by September 30, we would have been able to do it,” says Prakash Barathi, secretary, Nav Shri Dharmik Lila Committee.
Ashok Aggarwal, president, Lav Kush Ramlila Committee anticipated the authorities to provide a transparent resolution properly in time. “I understand there is a pandemic, but agar aap baat karte ho toh raasta nikalta hai. We suggested holding it without opening it for the public and stream it live. We had even spoken to some hospitals to provide medical assistance. A team of 20 doctors and nurses were to be present at the venue. Even we are worried about our health, so why would we have not taken all possible measures to ensure safety,” he says.
Read: Ramlila custom to pause as a result of Covid-19? Actors, organisers in despair
With the up to date tips have come new processes to get permits. Shiv Kumar Gupta, senior joint secretary and bhandari, Ramlila Committee, says, “We were caught up in a rigmarole and no one gave us any definite answer. These guidelines have many terms and conditions. Only a few days are left to Navratri, how will we undertake all the preparations and permits in such a short span of time?” he rues.
Barathi explains, “Earlier, we would only submit one application, but now we have to go to various authorities and licensing offices. A nodal officer would be appointed, who will then inspect our grounds and arrangements, submit the report to the officers concerned and then we will get the permission. No officer is willing to meet anyone due to the pandemic, and ask us to submit our applications in a box outside their office.The ground hasn’t been alloted yet; I don’t think celebrations will be possible this year.”
Taking into consideration the losses this has introduced, Aggarwal, shares, “We had got 500 new dresses made, 20 new songs were recorded, a new screenplay was written and new scenes were added. Rehearsals were on for the last three months. We had booked dance groups, and make-up artistes from Mumbai. We had to cancel their tickets. We work all year round to make Ramlila possible.”
Read: DDMA permits Durga Puja, Ramlila with Covid riders
Dhiraj Dhar Gupta, basic secretary, Shri Dharmic Ram Lila Committee, says that every one celebrations are a collaborative effort and the losses can be borne collectively by the members. Finding options, he says that they’ll broadcast it on tv for the 9 days of Navratri. “The only time that we didn’t have Ramlila celebrations was during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. The then Prime Minister Shastri ji (Lal Bahadur Shastri) had made an appeal to donate money and ration to families of martyred soldiers. There is inspiration in his message which can be implemented even today by helping those in need,” he says.
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