Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ram Leela Celebrations of Basohli

The preparations to this end are being made at war footing and all those efforts are being made which will go a long way in making the celebrations a complete success so that it may leave a permanent impact on the viewers. Wide publicity is being given to it to attract a good number of the viewers from within and the adjoining states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. In order to make it interesting and colorful, the assistance of many state departments is being sought.
According to the information available from the senior most citizens of the town, Ram Leela celebrations in Basohli date back to early twentieth century i.e. from Oct. - Nov. 1911. Before the celebrations reached the present stage it passed through many social, administrative problems and financial constraints. In the beginning years of the celebrations, Ram Leela was celebrated in the open ground amidst a big disciplined crowd surrounding the arena where the artists used to perform their roles attired in very simple costumes. The artists distinguished themselves from the spectators wigs and beard made from the bark of Dhamman tree called saels (used for making strings for weaving cots). The presentation was called Ras Leela which was performed by the artists (Raas Dhari) from the locality and from the villages of the adjoining Punjab and Himachal Pradesh states. The mode of presentation of Ram Leela went on changing with the passage of time and later on the presentation covered the whole chougan. Earlier, the ground was divided into five stages one each for Ram Durbar, Ravan Durbar, and Ashoke Vatika and for Sumeru Parbat where as rest of space is reserved for use of sets for Panch Vati, huts for Saints/ seers and for different battles between various fighting factions of that time. Those days Ram Leela used to start in the afternoon in the broad day light due to the non availability of lighting arrangements. At night hours famous Hindi nataks (dramas) of that time like, Krishan Sudama, Bilvamangal, Rukmaniharn and Shravan Kumar were staged in the bright light of the patromaxs. The pitch of the artists used to be very high which could be heard from half mile distance without PA system as is available these days. Achievements in the celebrations and innovations in the presentation required much money which was very difficult during those days with poor economical conditions of the natives and little or no means of livelihood. The graph of presentation of Ram Leela showed gradual decline year after year till it reached its end.
Before Ram Leela could fade from the village management of the organization came in the able hands of Late Sh. Khushi Ram Padha and his devoted and honest team comprising of S. Sh. Ishwar Dass Padha Nathu Ram Abrol, Pushap Raj Purohit, Hari Krishan Nayyar, Prem Mahajan, Jagan Nath Gulehi, Ram Mehta, Sdershan Mishra/Chouhana, late Sh. Kishori Lal Sharma and many devoted persons who brought the financial condition of Ram Leela on concrete footing.
The present life like scenes pertaining to glowing of Lakshman Rekha, descending of Lord Hanuman from sky with mountain, Dhanush Yagya, felling of seven tar trees with one arrow by Lord Ram and crossing Sarju by boat by Ram, Sita and Lakshman were the brain child of Mulkh Raj Gupta, Govind Ram Kapoor, whereas the management of costumes etc. was taken care by Madan Lal Chang and Dev Raj Raina. Ram Leela feels proud in having a vocal classical musician Sh. Devinder Nath Premi, who has got no match in the whole state, and who had been working as music director of Ram Leela for many years. Krishan Chand Pathania, Sri Ram Kapoor and Nikka ram Achrya had been the extraordinary comedians of Basohli stage. Among the past artists the names of Late Tara chand Pangotra, Nathu Ram Purohit, Chand Kishore Ranadey are worth mentioning.
Ram Leela festival excels in many ways in the matter of its secular character as Muslim brothers have been taking keen interest in making the festival a complete success in the matters of presentations and management. Nazir Ahmed Chouhan, Shuker Din and others had played famous characters of Ram Leela. This is the festival when all the married daughters and employees from all the communities come to their homes and spend few days with their families and friends.
Now-a-days Ram Leela Basohli by dint of its presentation and devotion has carved out a place among the popular festivals of the state and the country. Life like presentation, sanctity and devotion of the people attracts good number of visitors during the celebrations every year. This year, being the year of centenary celebrations has got some special attractions like:
Illuminationof roads and buildings in the town.
Organising cultural shows from different states
Free langar for the persons coming from outside the town.
Organising exhibition and workshop on Basohli painting by NGO Vishavsthali during the festival.
Prize distribution for the outstanding services rendered by the citizens.

Like every year the state government is again requested to declare the Basohli Ram Leela as state festival on the pattern of Sindhu darshan of Leh and Jhiri Mela of Jammu and deploy the information Deptt. And Door Darshan to cover the festival for its telecast on the national network. It is requested to all to turn up in good number and add to its glory.

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