Tribune News Service
Amritsar, October 22
Seemingly upbeat and choosing to instill some kind of hope among people, the Ramlila artistes in city have been on the go despite the post-pandemic gloom that has marred the festive season. At a time when many cities have chosen not to host the drama this year owing to the virus threat and financial constraints, 10 Ramlila committees across Amritsar have been given the administration’s nod but a slew of safety guidelines has to be followed.
The much-anticipated enactment this year will see a cut down in audience and squeezing of budgets to ensure that enough safety measures are in place. “Hosting the Ramlila has been a challenge this year as you have to really restrain people from crowding or exceeding the said limit. Earlier, every night we used to get an audience of around 400-500 people, but this time we have barred the sitting to just 150-200,” said Satish Kumar Ballu, head, Bhalla Colony Dramatics Club, that has been hosting Ramlila in the city since 1976.
Cutting down on the sets, props and equipment in budget to make way for buying sanitisers, gloves, masks and setting up a sanitisation tunnel at the entrance of the Ramlila venue, Satish says that the committees have braved the lockdown financial blues and ensured that all threats are kept at bay. With an average budget of Rs2-3 lakh, the committees this year have shrank the expenses to Rs1.5 lakh. “For first three days, we had not allowed kids and elderly to watch the Ramlila. But then, everyone wants some sort of entertainment after being incarcerated at home and despite our restrictions on number of entries, the walk-in of audience has been increasing. So, we have lifted that restriction. We are distributing masks to everyone and have made it mandatory for the artistes to not use same make-up kits,” he shares.
But despite all the measures, people thronging the venue need a reminder every now and then, for even a slightest of slip-ups can trigger an adverse outcome as big as the event itself. “We have to keep check that everyone in the audience is wearing masks. Some people do not listen or follow proper safety instructions. So, we keep on announcing in between acts about mandatory safety guidelines. We have also got all our 50 artistes tested before the beginning of Ramlila,” shares Pawan Sharma of Shree Vaishno Dramatics Club that hosts Ramlila in Naraingarh and Chheharta.
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