One of the surviving Indian folk drama in T&T is the Ramleela, which many call Ramdila, and is held during the weeks preceding the celebration of Divali at several venues throughout the country. It is estimated that there are at least 30 groups that perform Ramleela annually, and the number is growing. Other surviving Indian folk dramas include Krishna Leela and the Sarwan Kumar Dance Drama; and some years ago, Harischandra, Prahlad, Sarwaneer, Rasmandal, Indar Sabha, Tota Maina, Kansa Leela and Alha Roodal. Most of these folk dramas seem to have disappeared, and one of the major factors that contributed to their decline was the impact of Hindi cinema from India and the birth of the Indian orchestras, which imitated the songs and music from Bollywood.
The Ramleela is an adaptation, in the full sense of the word, of the popular and initial version of the Ramayana. It is held for ten days at most venues. In the drama itself, which has been described as street theatre, there are songs, music, dance, action, costumes and special effects are incorporated. This year, amazing scenes were witnessed on a journey to the various Ramleela venues. At the first Felicity Ramleela grounds the computer technology was used. Special effects, such as the sound of thunder, dramatic music and the haughty laughter of Ravana were generated from the computer and amplified through the loud speakers. In this regard, the Felicity group is a pioneer.
At Pierre Road, the producers used separate microphones, and individuals on stage added their own blend of special effects to complement the "players" on the Ramleela Grounds. The influence of this feature can be traced to the visiting Ramayana Ballet group from India at the Divali Nagar in 1986. At the Hindu Prachar Kendra, many adaptations take place, including the one of a well decorated motor car as part of the enactment of the marriage ceremony of the Ramleela. It was interesting to note that the ages of the "players" ranged from four to 18. Credit must be given to the Kendra for encouraging, nurturing and training the youths to participate in Ramleela.
Ramleela celebrations take place with little State support. Newspaper articles stated that for 2009 the following grants were given by the State for Ramleela: Hindu Prachar Kendra-$9,000; Mc Bean and Avocat-$8,000; Cedar Hill and Dow Village-$15,000. In most areas, this is clearly not enough funding. Most Ramleela groups are forced to raise funds on their own. It was refreshing to hear Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh's declaration of Government's commitment of $1 million to upgrade facilities at Dow Village Ramleela site.
Over the years Ramleela has improved especially as training courses were conducted by UTT, Hindu Prachar Kendra and Swami Sushilji Maharaj of New Delhi, India. Participants were trained in stage management, acting, directing, dance, costumes, designing and make up.