Behind the scenes of Ramleela,religious lines get blurred

Transcending religious boundaries,communities are embracing each others’ beliefs with increased acceptance as artistes from various communities get together to perform Ramlila.

Written by Shivani Yadav | Chandigarh | Published:October 17, 2012 1:58 am

Transcending religious boundaries,communities are embracing each others’ beliefs with increased acceptance as artistes from various communities get together to perform Ramlila.

Non-Hindu artistes here say that getting into the roles of various characters from the mythological series is a process so spiritual that it erases the religious differences amongst them.

Yadvinder Mehta,chairman with the Ashwini Bal Dramatic Club,Sector 30 says that their team has around five non-Hindu artistes and some of them have even stayed back for the 12 days of performances with the rest of the group. “We have a separate cook preparing food for us here,keeping in mind the food items that we abstain from during this period,” says Mehta.

He says that the young generation is not religiously fanatic and freely respects and accepts each other’s values easily. He further adds that the people performing here have complete family support,an indication of the older generation changing with the times.

“While sharing a meal with friends,yesterday,I would have consumed non-vegetarian food but then I stopped short as I remembered my performance here,” said Riyaz Meer,a Muslim artist who acts for the Garhwal Ramleela Mandal Bijli Board,Sector 28.

Despite being a Muslim,Meer says that he has read the story of Lord Rama and that when he sees the devotion in the crowd,it is a ‘moving experience’ for him that leads to greater respect for their belief.

Artistes with a theatre background say that assuming a character in totality is the first duty of performing artistes.

“I am happy to be spreading the good teaching of Ramcharitamanas and for me,I take it as another performance that is aimed at catering to the sensibilities of the audience to which it is directed and not based on my individual conviction,” says Neelam Colwin,a Christian artiste here who has been acting in the Ramlila for the last 5 years.

Sukhwinder Pal Singh,a Sikh artiste who has been performing in the Ramlila for the last 5 years says that his participation has completely transformed him and made him a religious person. Attributing it to the beliefs that he has inculcated from fellow performers,and contrary to his earlier lifestyle,he says that he and his family have completely abstained from non-vegetarian food since he started performing.

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