Religion was never a barrier for them. Muslims from different parts of the city have been essaying various roles in the Ramlila every year.
Continuing with the tradition, two Muslim youths are taking part in the Sector-7 Ramlila this year. These artists, who are mostly students, refrain from non- vegetarian food during the Navratras.
“Ramlila is one platform where tradition goes beyond religion. The boundaries are created by people themselves and that is why a festival like this is a reminder of the victory of good over evil. Evil represents divisions of society on the basis of caste and religion while goodness stands for equality in all aspects,” says Mohammad Shehzaad Alam, 23, an engineering student from Punjab Technical University.
He plays minor roles of ministers and commanders.
Originally from Bihar, Shehzaad has been taking part in the Ramlila since the age of 14 in the city. “My parents never distinguished between a Hindu, Muslim or a Sikh and hence we were brought up in internalising the concept of equality from within,” he says.
He enjoyed seeing people playing the role of Hanuman and it made him interested in taking a part.
Mohammad Naseem (22) of Nayagoan has been actively participating in the Ramlila celebrations for the past five years. He is playing the roles of Shatrughna and Sumitra.
“There are no restrictions offering namaaz while participating in the Ramlila. We celebrate this festival with as much zeal as we look forward to Eid.”
“We are all one and no ones like to hurt others,” he said, adding that communal tensions were always a result of a pessimistic attitude. Working with a private firm in Sector 27, Naseem said this would continue to be his priority in the times to come as it gives him immense peace and satisfaction.