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.