By Harshmeet Singh
Delhi’s famous Red Fort ground is currently the venue for at least 5 simultaneously ‘Ram Leelas’ being organized by different committees. While each of them has its own USP, visitors seem to throng the ‘Luv Kush Committee’s Ram Leela’ in far bigger numbers. Participation of Bollywood veterans like Shakti Kapoor and Asrani in this particular Ram Leela seems to have titled the visitors towards this particular option.
While I was about to reach the venue after a small walk from Chandni Chowk metro station, I still wasn’t sure about which entry gate to take for the ‘star-studded’ Luv Kush Ramleela. Just as I asked a rickshaw driver about which gate to enter through, a voice told me to take a right turn and then join the long queue to enter the venue. The voice came from a burqa clad lady, who was going to the same Ram Leela! It is in these small moments that you realize the joys of living in a secular country like India!
As expected, the entry queues were more than 15 meters long. As at any other Indian function, there were a few people approaching the security forces to let them in by ditching the queue ‘because they knew the organizers’. To the credit of security forces, they kept a customary stern face and didn’t allow any such entry.
It is only when you enter the venue do you realize that it is much more than a Ram Leela exhibition. With food stalls ranging from the Dominos Pizza to Old Delhi’s famous Chat Kachodi, you realize how generations’ old custom has undergone a commercial makeover. The food stalls are organized to suit the needs of all sections of visitors with cost for 2 ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000 at different stalls!
Just when I was ordering a Pav Bhaji, a roaring laughter emerged from the background, ‘Raavan hun main, main hun Raavan!’. The show had begun! Expecting a huge crowd, the organizers had arranged close to 10,000 chairs for the audience to witness the extravaganza. Apart from the grand stage, 2 huge projector screens were set up on either sides of the stage to ensure that the visuals reach the entire audience. The other attractions for the visitors at the venue included rides like the Giant wheel and Columbus.
Despite people’s reducing affinity towards our cultural programs, Ram Leela has held its own. With people of all caste, religion and age coming together to witness one of India’s most celebrated mythological stories, it can truly serve as an inspiration to those who are after each others’ blood just because of their eating habits!