Firecracker ban detonates Ramlila celebrations

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Biggest events likely to be canceled because authorities have yet to release guidelines

The largest, oldest and most popular Ramlila events the capital has hosted for decades, in some cases centuries, will likely be canceled entirely this year.

Organizers, who agreed to keep the celebrations low-key last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, appear determined to call off the events, accusing authorities of “not issuing guidelines on time and of having imposed a total ban on the bursting of firecrackers of all brands and varieties, including ‘green crackers’ ”.

“Mismanagement,” organizers said, left them with limited, if any, alternatives for the Ramlila celebrations, which are slated to start from Oct. 6. A handful of them, however, hope to hold smaller, one-day events. for the sake of continuity.

According to the organizers, around 700 events are planned each year in the city on different scales, of which around 100 are the largest and among the oldest in the country.

The 170-year-old Ramlila organized by the Shri Ramlila Committee (SRC) in central Delhi, with its origins in Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s decision to sponsor the event during his reign, is among those likely to to be canceled, along with other major popular events.

“On the one hand, there is not enough time to make the arrangements since the directives have not yet been communicated to the organizers; on the other hand, given the ban on firecrackers, a quality demonstration during Ramlila is not possible, ”said Rajesh Khanna, secretary general of the SRC.

“They (the authorities) made it impossible for us to organize the Ramlila. Seems like this is precisely what they wanted in the first place; if that hadn’t been the case, they would have spoken to us well in advance, ”he said.

‘Not enough time’

Satish Aggarwal of East Delhi’s Shri Balaji Ramlila committee said there was neither enough time to collect contributions for the event nor a way around the ban on the use of firecrackers.

“We were able to organize the celebrations last year on a relatively smaller but still adequate scale. It doesn’t seem possible at all this year. In a way he [cancelling events] seems like the right thing to do; few have the heart to ask for contributions from households that have lost one or more limbs due to COVID, ”he said.

Ashok Goel Devraha, secretary general of Delhi Dharmik Sangh, an umbrella body for the organizers of Ramlila in the city, said the events would be held with continuity no matter how small.

“Whether we are hosting them at home or with just the families of the committee members present, we will be hosting the event in honor of Lord Ram. In Pitampura, for example, we will organize a day Sampoorna (Completed) Ramlila and use electronic effects to simulate fireworks, ”said Mr. Goel, who is also the chairman of Shri Keshav Ramlila organized at Netaji Subhash Place.

Anil Sharma of the RK Puram Ramlila religious committee said its members would meet on Thursday to take a final call. “No matter how small the celebration is, we will do something to mark the occasion,” he said.


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