The socio-religious Ramleela shows which are being staged throughout Haridwar city by various Ramleela committees have kept the age-old traditions alive.
The story of epic hero, Lord Rama, forms the base of many movies and tele-serials but the characters enacted on stage, live, during Ramleelas have swayed on the masses imagination for centuries. Despite the technological advancements in film industry, the impact of these Ramleelas with male characters playing role of females have ever gained popularity and these still remain an inexpensive source of recreation and moral enlightenment.
The city of Haridwar is soaked in the atmosphere of religious fervour these days with Ramleelas by different Ramleela committees which culminate on Dussehra symbolising the victory of good over evil and triumph of righteousness over wickedness. Haridwar boasts of having some century old Ramleelas including Ramleela of Haridwar, Jhabreda, Bhagwanpur, Bahadrabad and Kankhal. The artists of Adarsh dramatic club staged the Dhanush Yajna Leela in which king Janak gives the hand of his daughter Sita in the hands of Rama after he breaks the Shiv Dhanush. A Ramleela show generally lasts for 18 days till Dussehra festival. After Dussehra, king Ravana is killed and Ramleela culminates with Raj Tilak of Rama.
Virendra Chadha, president of Ramleela committee Haridwar said, “Ramleela is staged to give a glimpse of ethical and moral life of Lord Rama and Shri Ramleela committee of Haridwar has maintained the tradition of staging with discipline for over 100 years. Lot of people are involved in various scenes enacted from the epic Ramayana.”
The Ramleela of Jwalapur is considered as one of the oldest Ramleela which began as Ram Natak about 150 years ago and took the form of Ramleela about 100 years ago. Even Muslim brothers, Billa and Sukha have participated in Ramleela giving it a touch of bonhomie amongst Hindus and Muslims. Pradeep Chaudhary, social activist said, “Way back one film artist Santram came to play a role in Ramleela and thoroughly impressed he stayed back till the end of his life when he became blind.”
In Ramleela shows staged at various places in the district, the Ramleela of Ramnagar is the most hit amongst the people with the jazzy realistic costumes worn by the characters. Bharat Sharma who enacts as Rama in 59 year old Ramleela of Ram Nagar Jwalapur said, “Costume plays a major part in making the character realistic and it is quite a stressful task. It is so important to have the perfect dress and the ornaments since the dress worn by the actor gives the liveliness of the character. Dialogues are delivered in the right spirit and action when the character himself feels like having taken the garb of a deity.” It literally weighs to play the character of incarnation of Lord Vishnu- Lord Rama. The ‘gada’ (weapon) weighs a few kilos and the character enacting Sita has to carry flairy gown weighing 10 kgs. A college goer Shivam acts as Sita.
The former legislator and Congress contestant in LS polls of 2019 Ambrish Kumar has been associated with Ramleela of Jwalapur for decades. “My grandfather and father were supporting the Ramleela shows since British period and I myself enacted diverse roles in Ramleela,” said Ambrish Kumar.
In Bhagwanpur Ramleela, the main attraction is of grand Shiva Barat which is taken out after Dushehra followed by Bhandara (free food) for the people, said the committee members.