Kamal, a 22-year-old student of final year, has been playing the role of Sita in the Ramleela for the past many years. He would begin his rehearsals a month in advance but this time even when just a week is left, he has been calling the organisers to know if he should practise his role.
This time in the middle of the pandemic, Ramleela organisers face uncertainty even as just a week is left for the Ramleela to begin. They have filed for permission but they haven’t got any response yet. Some Ramleelas are scheduled to take place from October 14 while others from October 15 and 17.
UT Adviser Manoj Parida said that they will first see the Delhi pattern and then will decide on the permissions.
“If they cancel it, we will follow suit and if they scale down the Ramleelas, then we will do the same. We will follow the Delhi pattern,” Parida said.
Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav said that the civic body just gives the ground permissions and the moment standard operating procedures are released, they will give the permissions.
Suresh Bakshi, director of Ramleela Committee, Parade Ground, Sector 17, who has been getting Ramleelas staged for the last 67 years, stated that there has been a lot of uncertainty this time and if permissions are not given, they will hold virtual Ramleelas.
“Even if it is COVID, it is years-old tradition to get Ramleelas staged. We just can’t let them not happen. If permission by administration is not given, we will get them screened online. We will screen them through YouTube if they don’t give approvals,” he said.
This group of Sector 17 Ramleela actors, directors and other members are 40 to 50 in number.
“Most of the roles are played by college students who begin dress rehearsals and practise dialogues a month before. But they have been calling every day to know if they should practise. So we have told them in any case we will be holding the events even if we have to telecast online,” Bakshi said.
He added, “Ours is always the biggest show. We would have about 1,000 seats but around 3,500 to 4,000 people would join to see our Ramleela. Even for Dussehra, about 70,000 people would join. At least there should be intimation in advance about permissions.”
Jitender Bhatia, who organises the Sector 46 Ramleela, stated that they held a meeting with their IT team to see the possibility of holding online shows.
“Even for Dussehra in the evening, we are thinking of telecasting it online so that children and parents don’t need to crowd the event in COVID time and they can view Ravan Dahan online,” he said.
However, B P Gaur, president of Chandigarh Kendriya Ramleela Mahasabhas, said that he is hopeful of getting permission because when cinemas are opening, their events can also take place in open grounds. Gaur said that still some organisers feel that not many people will come to see Ramleelas, that is why they are thinking of casting shows online too.
“There are 35 Ramleela organisers that have applied for permissions. I am hopeful that all will be getting permissions because when cinemas are opening by following social distancing norms, our Ramleelas can take place in the open by observing social distancing norms. Even today we were in the office of the administration and we are hopeful of getting the permissions,” he said.
He added, “But you see what is the use of giving permission on October 15 itself when Ramleelas will begin?We should get time to prepare according to COVID protocol.”
The organisers have sought permission from the Deputy Commissioner, Municipal Corporation Commissioner and the police.
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