In this Ramlila, Muslims play Hindu gods with aplomb!

October 4th, 2008 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Oct 4 (IANS) As the festival of Dussehra approaches, Sher Khan is preparing to play the part of Hindu god Ram in Rudahi village of Uttar Pradesh. Never mind if he is a Muslim.It has been the tradition of the Ramlila in the village - located on the outskirts of Lucknow - for Muslims to play the part of key characters in the drama that re-enacts the tale of the vanquishing of demon king Ravana by Lord Ram.

So while Class 10 student Sher Khan will play Lord Ram, Mohd Naseem will be Ravana and Arbaaz will become Sita, come Dussehra next week.

“The main actors are mainly Muslim. It is because of this that the Ramlila enjoys its unique status,” Ramlila manager Mansoor Ahmad told IANS.

“Hope our drama can bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims that is widening in the backdrop of terror activities in various parts of the country,” he added.

It was Mansoor’s father Muzaffar Ali who started the Ramlila in 1972.

“I remember, the villagers here used to call troupes from outside for organising the Ramlila. My father, who always enjoyed watching the drama, then got the idea to start his own drama company.”

“He shared his idea with villagers and the rest is before you,” he said.

However, holding the Ramlila and making preparations was not that easy for Mansoor’s father. “Initially, Muslim participation in the Ramlila was frowned upon by a few fanatics from both the communities in the village,” said Mansoor.

“But the hardliners could not do much as the majority was with us. Gradually, the fanatics also started enjoying the drama.”

The Ramlila artistes feel that besides entertainment, their drama also intends to instil a sense of brotherhood among the two communities.

“We want to make people learn how our villagers have fostered bonding between the Hindu and Muslim communities,” said Mansoor.

Right from the director, who is also a Muslim, to the Ramlila artistes, no one has undergone any kind of professional training. “Only locals act in this Ramlila,” said Sabir Khan, director of the drama.

This time, a Class 10 student, Sher Khan, will play Lord Ram’s character, he said.

With no fee or entry ticket, this Ramlila every year starts on Dussehra, which falls on Oct 9 this time, and lasts four days.

“As many as 30,000 people from various parts of the state come here to see this Ramlila,” said Sabir Khan.

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