Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A leaf from the past

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As little kids in Lucknow in the heart of UP, Ramlila culminating into Dussehra was a high-point of our lives. We lived in a sleepy Railway Colony called RDSO in the outskirts of the city. There was a small children's park opposite our house adjoining a large government building with wide open space and a platform outside the building where the Ramlila used to be held every year. There were rows of 2 storey railways flats on either side of this building and the terrace of these buildings would be packed with audience. Ramlila would be a week-long affair that would start after dinner time every day and each day would be a sequel to the other. There would be an anchor at the show and each break was filled by jokes and entertainment ! Ram would be played by this very good good looking boy who used to get a great fan following by the end of the show. Sita was played by a boy dressed up like a girl though once they found a girl to play Sita and she promptly eloped with the guy who had played Lakshman after the Ramlila!! It was so exciting to get a front row audience to the Ramlila and us kids would grab the seats hours before it actually began. We clapped at the scenes and wept when Sita was abducted, it almost seemed real. Year after year, the same show was never tiring and when we became older Ramlila became an excuse to celebrate a late night out with friends. Everyone from the Director General to the junior clerk from RDSO came to watch the Ramlila.

After high school we came to Delhi. Going to watch Ramlila was not 'cool' at all in Delhi. I realized with great disappointment that only the maids and the drivers and the like went out to watch the Ramlila, if at all it was held anywhere. There was the upmarket Lal Quila Ramlila that one needed to buy tickets for ! A lot of kids in my class had never seen a Ramlila. This was a big, modern city. This was the capital of India. Never mind India.

A few years further I stopped missing Ramlila though stubbornly enough I continued my small town childhood ritual of watching the effigies of Ravan and cronies being burnt on Dussehra.

Ruhi came along on the Diwali of 2001. She was almost a year old on Dussehra and I took her to watch the bad man die ! She was absolutely frightened and for every year after that she was not to be amused or entertained a bit by Dussehra - much to my disappointment.

This year she is nearly six years old and thanks to her school she knows the story of the Ramayan. She also has a baby brother who at 2 years had the time of his life at Dussehra this year. He pointed a toy gun at the Ravan. Threw arrows and cheered when Ravan went ablaze. Though he asked me later if Ravan was hurt and if we should take him to the doctor !!! LOL

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I still miss Ramlila and I wish I could replicate that experience for my kids. Its one of those things that I know is going to disappear into TV screens in the next few years. Maybe next year I will buy tickets to the upmarket Red Fort Ramlila.

1 comment:

Smita said...

Ramlila bit was an amazing narrative! Very beautiful!