A Muslim Kumbhakarna in Delhi’s Ramleela

Delhi’s Syncretism wins over Buldanha’s Sectarianism…for now

Muslim boy Mujibur Rehman, 27, will play Kumbhakarna
Muslim boy Mujibur Rehman, 27, will play Kumbhakarna   Image: dailymail.co.uk

Newspaper headlines grabbed the plight of much loved actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui being ‘dis-allowed’ from his dream; playing the part of Maarich at the traditional Ramleela in his little village in Budhana (Uttar Pradesh) last week. The headlines screamed out a new ‘normal’.

The national capital, Delhi, continuing in centuries old traditions that cut across regions of the country, however will see a Muslim playing a prominent part: that of Kumbhakarna, brother of the formidable king Ravana at the Nav Shri Dharmik Ramleela scheduled to be held at the Parade Ground, Lal Qila (Red Fort). This news, out a day before Dussehra, a much celebrated festival in north India, went past without much notice.

Mujibur Rehman, 27, is preparing to do the honours at the Nav Shri Dharmik Ramleela and the resident of Laxmi Nagar is elated though he said his mother would have been happier if he got the role of lord Ram!
“I was very nervous when I auditioned for the role. I was also wary of my family reaction. But my mother was very supportive. She told me that she would be happier  if I were to play Ram. Our epics Ramayana and Mahabharata belong to everyone. Nowhere in these holy books is it written that a Muslim can’t enact the roles or emulate the persons therein,” said Mujibur told the media. 

The actor holds a diploma for acting from the Shri Ram Centre For Performing Arts (SRCPA). By performing in the Ramleela he is also, quietly but firmly, taking on the narrow dogmas within Islam, too. “Isn’t azaan (the morning call from mosques) also in a lyrical form? Isn’t it sung out? Where does the Quran say that we can’t act in theatre? I have asked many maulvis but haven’t got an confirmed answer.” Rehman got professional training in the Chhau dance of Jharkhand and learnt to play harmonium for three years at Gandharv Mahavidyalay as part of his overall training in theatre.

“An actor has no dharm or sthan (religion or place). It is sad that Nawazuddin Siddiqui has been stopped. As an actor, all that I want is to be on a stage to perform,” Mujibur Rehman added. This grand Ramleela is being played out at the ‘Shri Dharmik Leela Committee’s Ramleela near the Red Fort.

Performances here date back to 1924, and the Ramleela here is in its 93rd year. lThe performance this year promises its own thrills.

In 2016, the 21st century, special effects and technology will add more thrills for the audience.

According to general secretary of the committee in charge of the celebrations, Dheeraj Dhar Gupta, this year, the birth of Ramchandra and lord Shiva visiting the palace as an unknown sadhu will be the highlights.

His (Shiva’s) chaupais will be recited well. Then, there will be the episode of Ahi Ravan, who kidnapped Ram and Lakshman, and the Patal lok will be recreated. The moment, Sita crosses past the Lakshman Rekha, crackers will go up from the ground. Hanuman will also do a skywalk when fetching Himalayan herbs to save Lakshman!



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