Assuming a contemporary face, Ramlilas continue to attract masses
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With the advent of technology and contemporary improvisations, due to the participation of youngsters, the face of Ramlila performance has changed, over the years. What remains unchanged, though, is the experience of watching it live. Extravagant sets, loud music, elaborate costumes and heavily-donned characters, amidst a religious ambience marked by chants resonating in the air, remains a crowd puller.
"Our team has performed only once, but we received an overwhelming response, as 450 people attended it. Over the next few days, the number is expected to go cross 5,000," said Sunil Sharma of the Shri Ram Leela Committee, Sector 17. He attributed the heavy turnout to the experience of watching the "larger-than-life" spectacle live.
"People come here to watch Ramlila for the same reason that they go to a stadium to watch a cricket match. The experience of watching it live cannot be recreated through watching it on television or reading about it, as such a performance appeals to all senses," said Jatinder Bhatia of the Shri Badri Kedar Ramlila Committee, Sector 46.
Bhatia added that he thought the popularity of the performances had dipped, but in the last five years, it had been picking up, as every year organisers brought something new to attract the residents of the city.
Most Ramlilas are held between 9 pm and midnight. Organisers stated that maximum footfall is around 10 pm. "Children are very excited about Ramlilas, as there is no pressure of examinations on them at this time of the year, and there is an overall festive mood," the organisers said.
However, Ramlila committee members feel that if their proposal to put toy and food stalls, and swings for children is approved by the administration, the number of children visiting can escalate.
"The timing of the Ramlila performances clash with the television soap operas, due to which we lose out on some prospective viewers," stated Sharma, who has been performing in Ramlilas for the past 35 years.