Ravana may have been reduced to ashes and it all may seem to be over, but the passion in the actors behind the city’s many Ramlilas stays alive and kicking, ready for another year ahead.
This year too, during the Luv-Kush show and Shri Dharmic Leela at Subhash Maidan, and the one held in Ashok Vihar, the grounds turned into melas as part of the Dussehra celebrations, with numerous food stalls, games and amusement rides for the crowds.
Lawyers, accountants and government officers, transform into characters from Ramayana for the Ramlila performances, every year. We went backstage and witnessed the multiple practice sessions and long hours of work put in by set and prop designers, choreographers, and make-up artists, among others, to enthrall one and all.
At the Ramlila in Ashok Vihar, Abhinav Chauhan, a builder from Dwarka, played Ravana. He has taken over the role from his father, who played Ravana for more than 25 years. “I love the role and take part to preserve our culture and tradition,” said Chauhan, all dressed up in the avatar with ten heads, that weighed over 14 kg. At the Luv Kush Ramlila, the veteran was the makeup man, who has been at the job for 46 years. His excitement was shared by the many children around, who played the monkey warriors as part of Hanuman’s army.
The Ramlila isn’t just a play for those involved. It’s an act of love and devotion, they say. The audience, too, believes in the characters, applauding generously during these shows — melodramatic and full of pathos and action.