The annual Ramlila event, held at Delhi’s iconic Red Fort and attended by the Prime Minister and the President, will not take place this year amid Covid-19 pandemic.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which comes under Centre, has denied permission to the organizers. On the contrary, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Sunday that Ramlila and Durga Puja festivities can be held in Delhi, provided Covid protocols will have to be strictly adhered to. The Ramlila committee stated that with just 15 days left for the event, it will be “practically impossible to implement the kind of rules that have been laid down by Delhi government.”
Delhi Disaster Management Authority issues fresh set of guidelines, including strict adherence to #COVID19 safety protocols, for holding congregations and large events ahead of #DurgaPuja and #Ramleela celebrations. pic.twitter.com/Hy7HIQNui2
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) October 11, 2020
Union Health Minster Harsh Vardhan too stressed on Sunday that large gatherings should be avoided during the festival season.
Arjun Kumar, Head of Luv Kush Ramleela Committee, told NDTV, “The Ramlila at Red Fort ground has been happening for 80 years but it will not happen this year. Our Luv Kush Ramleela Committee, which organises the event is the biggest such committee in India. Nearly 600 total artists are involved. At least 100 of those come from Mumbai and 250 artists are dancers.”
The organizers need to arrange for the travel, accommodation and costumes for all these people. Arjun Kumar said they were still prepared to take up the task, but the ASI has refused to give them the ground. “It seems like the government’s intent is that the event should not take place,” he said.
The organizers weren’t too happy with the Delhi government rules either. “Firstly the rules have come at such a short notice. Secondly, rules say people should be constantly seated on chairs. If they stand or sit on the ground, permission will be withdrawn. Ramlila pandal is not like a cinema hall that people will remain seated for three hours constantly. If situation improves in next 10 days, we may just hold a small scale one-day ceremony where effigies are burnt, but there will be no Ramlila function,” Arjun Kumar added.
Delhi holds nearly 800 Ramlila events on the day of Dussehra, but most Ramlila events are unlikely to happen this year.
The Covid-19 tally in India has crossed 71 lakh. Delhi’s positive cases count stands at 3 lakh.