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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

Over 400 years later, still a showstopper

Nivedita Khandekar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 22, 2009
First Published: 00:31 IST(22/9/2009) | Last Updated: 00:33 IST(22/9/2009)

It is a tradition believed to be more than 400 years old and yet there seems to be no threat like ‘falling TRP ratings’ or the ‘Friday jitters’ to its popularity. And this is despite the fact that the story is the oldest — victory of the good over evil. Welcome to Ramlila.

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Apart from the ‘faith’ factor, the credit also goes to the organizers, who have kept pace with the changing time.

While two Ramlila organisers have gone ‘global’ thanks to 'live' webcast on all days, most big organizers are using hi-tech methods to highlight important events in the 10-day drama enacting the life story of Lord Ram.

Arjun Kumar, secretary of Luvkush Ramlila Committee, said: “Youngsters are glued to the Internet today. They don’t want to leave their computers, so we thought live webcast would be the best way to reach out to them.”

He said this also gave the Ramlila a bigger audience. “People across the globe can view Ramlila sitting at home.”

The highlight of the 10-day event at Red Fort lawns would be when Hanuman is shown flying with the help of cables when he goes to pick up Sanjeevani buti for unconscious Laxman and the fire works when the fighters use swords/spears.

At another venue, innovation is the buzzword for Shri Dharmik Lila Committee, which has been organising Ramlila at Subhash Maidan for more than 85 years old.

“We have introduced songs for the first time,” said Brahmadev Soni, who holds the post of lila mantri or minister within the committee.

But then, some things remain unchanged for years. “There is no parallel to the Ramlila procession — Shobha Yatra — that is our hallmark. It has colourful floats depicting various episodes of Ramayana,” said Rajesh Khanna of Shri Ramlila Committee, which organizes Ramlila at Ramlila ground, the oldest event in the city.

Another thing that remains unchanged and is an absolute must is the burning of Raavan on Dussehra or the tenth day. But Shri Ramlila Committee Indraprastha Extension (East Delhi) burns an additional demon symbolising a current social evil.

“Aaj Ka Raavan, as we call it, is chosen through public poll. This year, the demon would be chosen from honour killings, mahangai (price rise), increasing crime in the Capital and food adulteration,” said Suresh Bindal, the committee president.

With the events attracting huge crowds, the authorities are always on tenterhooks. Organisers claimed they were prepared to tackle all emergencies. Ravi Jain of Shri Dharmik Lila Committee (Subhash Maidan) said: “We have followed all the guidelines laid by the police and the administration. After all, security of the people is of prime importance.”

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