With Diwali three weeks away, Ramlilas are a rage in Bathinda. However, the role of Sita, the woman, considered to be the eternal mother in Hindu mythology, is seldom enacted by women.
The five well-known dramatic clubs in the city, Ranjit Dramatic Club, Hanuman Seva Samiti, Krishna Dramatic Club, Shri Ram Kala Kendra, Shri Ram Chander Kala Kendra have no women in the role of Sita.
The most common reason cited for this anomaly is that girls or women do not come forward to volunteer.
However, HT decided to look deeply into the issue and zero in on the possible causes for the trend.
Organiser of Krishna Dramatic Club, Chetan Sharma, said, "Parents from 'good' family background do not allow their daughters to joi us. They permit their daughters to enter other fields related to stage performace, but when it comes to Ramlila they are hesitant."
On why is a professional actress not hired for the role, he said: "We don't take professional girls as they they lack in devotion."
A man, Baljinder, is then playing the role of Sita and he has done it for 13 years. He is a teacher at the local Delhi Public School.
"Anyone can play Sita. However, girls exhibit scant interest in playing the role," he said.
Organizer of Hanuman Sewa Samiti, Sohan Maheshwari, said, "It is difficult to take care of girls. We rehearse and stage the Ramlila at odd hours. If a women enacts the role, we also have to hire a special field-worker for her make-up and costume."
He added: "Parents do not allow their daughters to take part because of two scenes, the Swayamvar and the kidnapping by Ravan. This is a big hurdle to girls enacting Sita."
Ajay Kumar is a peon in a bank and is playing the role for the first time this year. "Ramlila starts and begins at odd hours, This leads to men playing the role of Sita."
When queried on the matter Sukhbir Razia, a famed named in theatre and films, said, "If offered, I will love to play Sita in ramlila. However, more work needs to be done on the quality of theatre on offer. Over the years, the simplicity has gone missing. Loud make-up spoils the show."
On whether professional actors lacked devotion to religion, she said: "An artiste worships all religions. We love our work."