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Ram Leela 2020

Kshitij Kumbhat

The festival of Dussehra holds a verse significance for the Hindus in India, as it denotes the triumph of good over evil. According to traditions, it is believed that Lord Ram fought King Ravan on this very day and won. One of the biggest customs for the celebration is the Ram Leela which is a narration of the Ramayana through a play. Watching Ram Leela during Navratri is usually one of the highlights of Dussehra but with guidelines of social distancing and keeping in mind everyone’s safety, the celebrations came to a halt.. Nonetheless , there is still scope for celebration.

Ram-Leela in Ayodhya

The infamous Ram Leela of Ayodhya had switched to an online platform and was aired between the 17th of October and the 25th of October. India’s national broadcaster, ‘Doordarshan’ telecasted the enactment live from LaxmanQila situated in Ayodhya and streamed live on Doordarshan’s YouTube channel as well. The telecast was conducted in 14 different languages and two large LED screens were installed on the stage for a better display.

Times Now reported, that the streaming had been arranged with the collaboration of BJP MP Pravesh Sahib Singh Verma and Tourism, Culture, Religious Affairs Minister of Uttar Pradesh Neelkanth Tiwari. The cast of Rameela included Bollywood stars like Manoj Tiwari as Angad, Ravi Kishan as Bharat, Vindu Dara Singh as Hanuman, Shabaz Khan as Ravan, Raza Murad as Ahiravan, Arsani as Narad Muni, and Rakesh Bedi as Vibhishan.

Ram-Leela in Delhi

On 11th of October, Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal lifted a ban on Ram Leela celebrations with the statement of it being arranged under governments Covid protocols through the Luv Kush Ram Leela Committee, which organizes various functions. The committee explained that it was impossible for them to impose the rules that were given by the Delhi government just 15 days before the event. This was the first time in 80 years that this event did not take place in Delhi. . According to an NDTV article, Head of the committee, Arjun Kumar, said, “The Ram Leela at Red Fort ground has been happening for 80 years but it will not happen this year. Our Luv Kush Ram Leela Committee, which organises the event is the biggest such committee in India. Nearly 600 total artists are involved. At least 100 of those come from Mumbai and 250 artists are dancers."

He also explained that rules of the event came at short noticeand further stated that according to a new rule people would have to remain constantly seated on chairs during the whole event, which, if not followed, would have resulted in the permission being withdrawn.

Deepotsav in Uttar Pradesh

AyodhyaShodhSansthan was denied permission to hold a Ram Leela in Uttar Pradesh by its government this year. The government provided permission to hold the affair on the premises of the Ayodhya museum. AyodhyaShodhSansthan’s manager, Ram Teerath said to IndiaToday, “ Over 300 Ram Leela artists have been facing difficulties in earning their livelihood for the last seven months as, after the suspension of the Ram Leela, the government did not issue payments to them. Ram Lila artist," Nevertheless the administration will be bringing Ayodhya’sDeepotsav which was started by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, in 2017, in a virtual form during Diwali 2020. Minister of Tourism and Culture, Nilkanth Tiwari, in a review meeting with the Ayodhya administration officials on the arrangements to celebrate a virtual ‘Deepotsav’, stated that, “A new record of lightning 'diyas' would be created during this Deepotsav”. He explained that they would be hiring various volunteers keeping in mind the anti-Covid guidelines. These volunteers would be permitted to light up ‘diyas’. There is a plan to develop a virtual platform where the rest of the people will receive a link on their phones through which they can virtually light-up ‘diyas’. They would also receive a digital certificate on their phones confirming the following person took place in ‘Deepotsav’. This event would showcase the installation of LED lightboxes all over the city, made by acrylic sheets and a life-size structure portraying ‘Ram Darbar’ on a chariot. A second installation of ‘Ram Darbar’ would be visible from ‘Ram kiPaidi’ on the banks of the Sarayu river, a 18 feet tall structure with carved pillars and decorative components.

Edited by Sidhant Koshi and Aishwarya Seth