This Ramleela in Tekapaar village in Chhattisgarh’s Balod district is unique. For the last four years, every character in Ramleela from Ram to Ravana – has been played by girls.
All these girls belong to backward class, scheduled caste or tribal and people from far-flung areas visit this village to watch this unusual Ramleela.
The all-girl Ramleela came about after the males in the village had stopped taking part in the programme. The girls then took up the challenge and made this Ramleela team one of the rarest of its kind.
“About four years ago, the youth of this village stopped playing Ramleela and then some girls came to me and said that they wanted to act in Ramleela. The girls motivated other girls and now 30 girls play out every character of this Ramleela,” Pawan Kumar Yadav, coordinator of Tekapar Ramleela told Hindustan Times.
Many of these girls now study in different districts and return to Tekapaar during the navratras and are called by the name of their characters they play in Ramleela in the village.
The girls also take part in effigy burning ritual in the village, Yadav added.
“This Ramleela is rare as every character is played by a girl, which in not witnessed in any part of the country,” said Yadav.
“I come from Durg district to take part in the Ramleela. When we were kids we used to watch males playing the roles in Ramleela and since then we had a secret desire that one day we will have our own team for Ramleela. When they stopped playing we decided to start this all-women Ramleela,” said Shristri Yadav , 19, who plays Ahiravana in Ramleela and studies in Durg.
The collector of Balod, Rajesh Singh Rana has also appreciated the efforts of the girls.
“It is unique that girls are acting in Ramleela. We have encouraged the girls and panchayat under the ‘beti bachao beti padhao’ campaign,” Balod collector said.
People come from as far as 30km to see this rare Ramleela, which is funded by all the residents of Tekapar village.
“This Ramleela team is in demand in the district. Every village wants these girls to perform in their village but since all the girls are students it is not possible,” said Aji Ram Sahu, a resident of the village.
“The role of Hanuman is played by Dalit girl Neha and the role of Ram is played by Asmita Nishad. They all work as a team and is no sense discrimination in them,” said Yadav.