Thursday, 22 October 2015

Ramlila or Ram Leela, Jaipur

Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
Ramlila or Ram Leela is a folk play on the life of Lord Rama, basically it is played on the stories from the religious book Ramayana. Generally it is played for ten nights which ends on the Dussehra when the Demon King Rawan is set on fire.

When I was kid there was a small temple near my home where Ramlila used to get performed. My grandmother took me there many times as she wants to make me religious. And on the weekend sometimes my father used to take us to the biggest fair and festival ground of that time to watch the most glamorised Ramleela at "Ram leela Maidan, Jaipur" (even the name of this ground is "Ram leela Ground). The capacity of this ground is in thousands and it was used to be jam packed at the time of Ramleela. 

As this is Ramlila season, yesterday evening I made a plan to revisit the memory lane. First I went to that small temple and inquired about the Ramleela but they said that they had stopped organising it from few years. Then I thought ok let's go to the biggest Ramleela ground of Jaipur "Ramleela Maidan". When I was kid and used to come here we needed to have special passes or tickets to get entry, I was happy to see that now it’s a free entry with just few booked VIP’s seats. I reached there about an hour early so decided to have a peek at the backstage area. All the artists were very friendly and welcomed me with the open heart. I was sitting with them, having chit-chat, watching them get ready, clicking few pics in-between and sipping tea. 
Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
The Guy who is sitting is playing Role of Lord Ram and Lord Ram is supposed to be the Ideal man. So when the Tea came and he saw me looking at him he got confused that he should take the tea or not. . . :)
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Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
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Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
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Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
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Still In many of the folk performances in India the female characters are also played by males only. And so was the case here, the only person who was uncomfortable because of me was the guy who was performing the role of Sita (Wife of Lord Rama). I don’t want to put some assumptions here but he was a shy kind of guy, very lean body, not talking to anyone, busy with his makeup, sitting quietly in corner. . . .  On the whole he also looked very sad to me. I don’t know for sure about his sexual preferences or if he is transsexual, transgender or gay or if he is going through any other issues. But it was clear that he is having hard time making his space at the backstage and in the Indian Society. 
Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
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Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
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Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
That was an all together different topic so for now let’s come back to “Ramleela”. After they all got ready and they said play will start in a minute. I thanked them all for their hospitality and came out from backstage to main ground to watch the play. But as soon as I came out and saw the scenario of ground my heart broke and I realized what TV, Media, Fast moving Life and Commercialization of everything had done to the Performances like this. The ground was kind of empty, The rickshaw pullers were having a drive in, Even the few Vip’s seats were empty, Most of the crowd was of the beggars and poor homeless people who lives in and around this ground. Now the future of performances like these is clear to me.
Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
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Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur
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Ramlila or Ram Leela Jaipur

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