For the first time in 67 years, Chandigarh will not witness the tall effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbkaran at major grounds.
The city’s Dussehra organisers said by the time Covid-19 curbs eased, it was too late for production of effigies and the uncertainty regarding permissions still prevail. Thus, the event cannot be held. The Saharanpur artistes who used to make the effigies have been also been conveyed the same.
Till last year, Sector 17 used to host the tallest effigies– a 70-ft tall Ravana, and Meghnad and Kumbkaran effigies of 65-ft each, produced at a cost of Rs 2.5 lakh.
Director of Sector 17 Ramleela committee Suresh Baksh said on the day of Dussehra, ‘Ravana Vadh’ will be shown in their Ramleela scenes itself and there would be no burning of effigies. “It is too late now. One, there was uncertainty regarding permissions. Even if we get permit, in three days effigies can’t be made. Work starts a month before. We have also asked the effigy making artistes to not come,” Bakshi said.
Dussehra celebrations at Sector 17 parade ground used to record footfall of over a lakh.
“Moreover, due to the pandemic. we can’t allow crowd of one lakh people to gather, as it is risky and distancing can’t be ensured,” he said. The Ramleela here began on October 20 due to delay in getting permissions.
The Sector 17 parade ground celebrations is not the only one being stalled, those in Sector 46 ground will also not take place.
One of the organisers Jitender Bhatia said they have decided not to burn effigies and to hold a “paath” on Dussehra. “Our committee has taken the decision to not burn effigies. There is no time to make them and nor can we allow crowds to gather,” he said, adding, “We will also distribute clothes, books and stationery to needy children. Besides this, we have decided to solemnise weddings of girls whose families are unable to spare funds.”
The committee was initially planning to cast the Dussehra event online but as there was no time to make effigies, the plan was discarded. Several of the city’s Ramleelas also faced a similar ordeal due to Covid-19.
Many Ramleela events could not take place as the organisers said they won’t be able to manage the crowds amid pandemic and the delay by the administration in granting permissions had also foiled the plans. The administration had said if distancing is not followed and masks are not worn, the onus of the same would be on the organisers’ committee.
The paucity of funds or donations have also been a trouble faced by the committees this time, especially the ones which hold both Ramleela and Dussehra. “We have not been getting donations this time as people are facing financial crunch,” said Navyug Ramleela committee of Sector 7.
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