This RAM in Ayodhya is a Muslim!

Lucknow, Sep 12: Final touches are being given for the staging of Ramlila by nearly a dozen Muslim artistes from Indonesia here and in Ayodhya this week.

"A Ramlila Samiti from Indonesia will be performing Ram Lila in Ayodhya and Lucknow from September 13 to September 15. All the artistes who will be performing Ramayana are Muslims, and they do not consume any non-vegetarian food," said UP religious affairs and culture minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary "It is for the first time such a Ramlila is being organised in the state, and that too by foreign artistes, all of whom happen to be Muslims," he said. The artistes will perform in Lucknow on September 13 and in Ayodhya on September 15. The minister said the government wanted to send out a message of cultural integration. "The message, which we are trying to disseminate through the staging of Ramlila by Muslim artistes from Indonesia is that despite being a Muslim-dominated country, they do not have any problem with staging of Ram Lila," Chaudhary said. He said that a programme by the Muslim artistes from Indonesia is also likely on September 14, but the venue is yet to be decided. In Ayodhya, the programme will be held at Swami Vivekanand auditorium of Avadh University. Avadh University vice-chancellor Prof Manoj Dixit said, "A number of lessons can be drawn from this. Ramlila has a strong cultural link with Indonesia." Despite it being a Muslim-dominated country, "there is no ban on Ramlila in Indonesia," he added. "We want that Ramlila of all the 65 countries, where it is performed, is staged in the Ramnagiri of Ayodhya," he said, adding there are 100 versions of the folk drama in India.