Taking forward its theme of “social harmony”, the RSS has been ensuring that the ongoing Ramlila performances in Delhi involve and felicitate members of the Scheduled Castes. The Ramayana has several instances when various SC sub-castes play a crucial role in the narrative. The Sangh has asked the Ramlila committees to ensure that they involve these sub-castes on all such occasions.
Delhi has around 120 Ramlila committees registered under the Ramlila Mahasangh and many of them have links with the RSS. Members of some of the top committees recently visited the RSS headquarters at Jhandewalan and, guided by the Sangh leaders, decided on a series of steps to ensure the participation of the SC community.
According to a Ramlila committee member, some of the steps suggested include: “conduct the opening aarti of Ram Leela by a SC everyday”, “invite a SC leader as the chief guest on the day Ram-Kevat Samvaad is being staged”, “include SC members in the organising committee”, “worship of Lord Valmiki along with the Ram Darbaar”, “put up photographs of Lord Valmiki on Ramlila hoardings and banners”, “include the floats of Kevat and Shabri in Ram Leela processions”.
Valmiki, Shabri and Kevat — among the prominent characters of the Ramayana — belonged to various SC sub-castes.
The RSS urged the committees to especially focus on Lord Valmiki, who also composed the Sanskrit Ramayana. About the initiative, Hariom Gupta, vice-chairman of Luv Kush Ramlila Committee, told The Indian Express: “Our committee has always been very sensitive on social harmony. But this year, the RSS has asked us to aggressively take up the cause. So we wrote letters to all the registered committees and asked them to ensure due respect and space to the SC community during Ramlilas.”
Former RSS Pracharak and current Swayamsevak Bhagwat Rastogi of Shri Balaji Ramlila committee said, “Ours is the biggest stage in Delhi, and we have placed the photograph of Valmikiji on top”. Gupta noted that Valmiki Dwars have been made by several committees and they have invited SC leaders as chief guests for several events.