The preparations for the most traditional and cultural event -- the Ramlila -- that has captured the psyche of the people for centuries -- have started in full swing in the hills of Garhwal.
The Ramlila committee of Pauri is ready to stage its 114th performance from September 25 for which the young and old members and artists have been rehearsing for more than one and half month.
Ramlila of Pauri has not only a century old cultural and traditional history behind it but is based on Ragas such as Vihag, Malkos, Bhimplasi, Pahari, Bhopali and Yaman. These unique features won the admiration of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi and Ramlila committee of Pauri was invited to perform at Delhi in 2008. The performance was not only documented there but some of the old traditional props, curtains and dresses were acquired by IGNCA for preservation. Though the Ramlila of Pauri tries to stay close to the age old traditions yet some of the changes have crept in by the passage of time. For the last few years, women have been participating in it too.
Besides, use of modern gadgets and musical instruments are also being sought to make it more attractive and interesting, said Ashutosh Negi, president Ramlila committee, Pauri. Another unique feature of Ramlila is that all the props, masks and even the 25 feet tall effigy of Ravan are prepared by the committee members themselves.
80-year-old Mahitab Singh who had played a number of characters in the Ramlila in his 65-year-old association, is still actively associated with it. It was inspirational for the young to watch him play the role of Shukracharya at the age of 79 last year. The enthusiasm of the team knows no bounds when their hard work is welcomed by a jam packed audience in the Ramlila ground till late night.