21, Oct 2015
LUCKNOW: Come Navratri and the Ramleela fervour reaches its zenith with artistes and Ramleela committees trying to put in their best while enacting the epic Ramayana.
However, in Mumtaz Nagar village, barely eight kilometres from Ayodhya — the land of Lord Ram — the Ramleela is unique. The play here is organised by Muslims.
Majid Ali, a villager, is a busy man this time around each year. Collecting funds, coordinating with artistes and making arrangements, Ali is the backbone of the Mumtaz Nagar Ramleela which is in its 51st year. The president of Ramleela Ramayana Samiti, Ali says: “The trend was started by our ancestors 50 years ago to ensure celebrations during Hindu festivals since the village had mostly Muslims. They started it to spread communal harmony and that’s what we try to do till now.” While the protagonists Ram, Sita and Lakshman are played by Hindus, Muslims happily essay other roles. “We respect all religions and select Hindus for the lead roles. This is because there are daily prayers before these characters and people touch their feet and perform aarti. But for all other roles, including that of Jamvant, Jatayu, Meghnath etc, people of the minority community are roped in and they do their job with perfection.”