The Vanishing Act

Amidst the loud cries of ‘Jai siya ram’ the gigantic effigies of Ravana and his brother burnt into flames after being set afire by Shri Ram. Every year such effigies are burnt on the tenth day of Navratra Festival. Shri Ram was followed by Laxman and Hanuman dressed in fascinating costumes and their faces lit with very appealing make up.

The Ramlilas are on a roll and every colony, school or city has its own set of groups performing such acts. The colourful sparkling costumes of the actors grip the eyes of the audience. It turns out to be a platform for all the aspiring actors. A stage which helps them display their talent and helps many to vent out the frustration of their unfinished bollywood dreams.

Mahesh, one such actor from the Shakti Nagar Ramlila group (North Delhi), feels that the Ramlila culture is soon disappearing. He has been playing hanuman from more than a decade now. An LIC agent by profession he makes sure to take ten days off for his acting passion every year.

There have been hardly any new recruitment in their Mandali. As a matter of fact, it is survivimg on self funded costumes informed Mr.Raman Desai, the president of the group.

“We come here every year but now it fails to give us the same level of entertainment as it used” said Mrs.Manju Baid, a member of the audience and a resident of shakti nagar. The dwindling numbers of spectators has discouraged the troupe from giving its best.

But, he is disheartened by the lesser and lesser interest shown by the community at large. People, according to him, flock to the nearby cinema halls instead of watching this spectacle. The creative ones prefer a theatre group’s performance in an auditorium then the neighbourhood park.

Looks like an art form is about to perish. The grand celebration at the ramlila grounds ,with the politicians and celebrities around, is one of the few reasons why the art is still surviving.

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