Saturday, July 2, 2022
Himachal Pradesh



Ramleela and Rasleela

Ramleela and Rasleela are two important forms of religious folk theatre. Each village has its own troupe of Ramleela actors who perform it each year for a total period of fourteen years. These plays are frequently interspersed with improvised comic interludes and folk songs. The Rasa troupes travels from village to village and they are known as Ras Dhariya who have their own 'Dera' (camps).

Each Dera is known by its head name. Of these the Dera of Mange Shah has been very famous. The Rasleela depicts scenes from the life of Shri Krishna.

Folk ballet and opera are performed in certain areas. These are called Sih, Rawal and Boora and are a sort of unwritten tales narrated like stories through the medium of ballet or opera. The dancers and audience assemble in a courtyard or a temple. The singers squat on the ground and to the accompaniment of tambourine commence singing the story in chorus. The dancers donning wooden masks sit on the sides. As the musicians start their song dancers get ready and in a short while start going round and round dancing and interpreting the story by means of highly formalised gestures and movement. The ballet and opera usually tell stories of love or tales of satire and irony. Mythological story interspersed with incidents picked from daily life is enacted. The gods, the parties, the village loafers and various characters drawn from the hill people's life are woven into these dance dramas.