Shiv Kumar Padha
Love and interest of the people in the fine arts, miniature art, music, dance, drama and the intangible aesthetic sense is transmitted from one to the next generation. Perhaps it is the legacy which the people of Basohli inherited from the Rajas of Pal dynasty who ruled Basohli state for 1500 years. It is said that the virtues and the vices of the rulers of a particular state are reflected in the behaviour of their subjects even after hundreds of years to come. Pal Rajas durbars were always adorned by the Nav Ratans who came from all walks of life of the contemporary society. Apart from the welfare works for the subjects the Rang Mahal of the Basohli palaces always echoed with the long notes of the classical singers, vibrations of Dholkies and the rattling of the gungroos of the dancers.
As per the inherited traits, the natives of the town have been nurturing the invaluable art of music dance and drama for the last two centuries. Natives of Basohli have been enjoying and playing theater and drama even from the time the present developed towns were in infancy. According to the verbal and the written record made available to Ram Leela the celebrations of Basohli Ram Leela dates back to the early 20 th century when the teams, called Ras Dhariye, from around the neighboring towns of Punjab and Himachal Pardesh used to play Ras Leela in an open cordoned arena. Inspired by the Ras mandlies the artists of the town started celebrating Ram Leela in a hall called Mandua, a kind of theater of that time. During those days there was neither the facility of lights nor of PAS, as we have today. The pitch of the artists was so high that one could listen the dialogues and live songs of the artists from a long distance even.
The use of latest innovation, additions and improvements, in the presentation of the Ram Leela make it unique in the country. Inspired by the innovations in the field of presentation of the Ram Leela, the management committee started staging it in the open ground having a vast capacity to accommodate large gatherings. Instead of one stage, Ram Leela was now staged on five different stages for Ayodhya, Lanka, Mareech Saroop nakha, Sumeru Parbhat for Hanuman and Sugreev and a vast space for the battles between the kings. The entry and the departure of the actors to and from the performing ground, is signalled by the brass band deployed. The decorations of the whole Madup gives a brides look.
The presentation of the life like scenes during the celebrations glorifies the functions which attract large number of viewers from the adjacent states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Sita swaynvar, Sita janam while ploughing, falling of seven Taad trees by Lord Rama with one arrow, Seeta Haran, coming down of Lord Hanuman from Akash Marg are the most charming and the mesmerizing presentations of the celebrations. The characters performing the role of Ram Seeta, Ravan and others remain on ten days fast. Great emphasis is given on the maintenance of sanctity of the adjoining areas.
Basohli Ram Leela is the first in the state which has been recognized by the State Cultural Academy vide its No.ADM-70/66-67/3789 dated 10-12-1966. The Ram Leela committee has got good assets in the shape of space, buildings, costumes and the hard cash which is donated by the people with a smiling face. Basohli Ram Leela is lucky enough to have Prem Sagar Aziz, ex minister of Jammu and Kashmir, as president of the committee who has revolutionized and overhauled the whole system by his experience and dedication. He has steered the committee in the direction of progress and has added many new dimensions to the existing set up.
With the inauguration of Atal Setu, Bridge over river Ravi, Ram Leela committee is experiencing a big boost due to the inflow of large number of viewers from the adjoining states. In order to entertain them committee plans some additional programs of culture, folk dances and songs by different organizations every year. In order to make the celebrations a success, the state and the district authorities lend their fullest cooperation in the matters of security, maintenance of law and order during the Navratras. The different TV channels also cover and telecast the Ram Leela every day. It is worth mentioning here that the Basohli Ram Leela has been adjudged as number one among the Ram Leelas staged in the metros of the country.
Shiv Kumar Padha