Safe haven for all Ravanas

Titarpur Village

Every year before Duss­e­h­ra, the stretch between Subhash Nagar and Tag­o­re Garden grabs eyeballs of the passing motorists. The div­ider and both sides of the road dot semi-made but huge figures of the evils of the great epic Ramayana.

For over three decades now, this place has been the hub for making Ravana, Megnadh and Kumbhakaran effigies. Two months prior to the festival, local and outside artisans start making effigies with bamboo, craft paper, old saris, plastic, paint and other material.

The artisans share a story about one Rava­na wale baba who was the first person to learn and spread the art of making effigies. Over years, as his disciples grew, the place became a hot spot of making effi­­gies representing evil.

“The height of the Ravana can extend anywhere from five to 80 ft. More than 3000 effigies are created, decorated and sold from this market an­n­­u­ally. The ones that sell the most are usually 40 ft high. Some of the artisans live here in Titarpur but many come to the Capital from UP, two months bef­o­re,” says Madan Lal, a local artist.

The stretch is no less than a Dussehra mela - without the maidan, for passerbys who get down from their vehicles al­o­ng with kids to click pictures with Evil incarnate.

But for the artisans, it is mo­re than a matter of maki­ng the effigies. With each pas­s­ing year, the biggest ch­a­l­lenge is the shortage of space to keep the effigies until sold.

Lack of dedicated spaces forces the artisans to keep them on pavements, dividers, under bus shelters and even at the exits of the Metro station!

A young effigy maker Sagar, who learnt the art from his dad says, “Finding space is the biggest problem. Every year, effigies get sto­len. Sometimes they are hit by passing vehicles. Police ask us to remove the effigies but whe­re do we keep them?” His grandfather was a chela of Ravana wale baba aka Chhutta Lal Saini.

While some effigies are made on order from Ramlila committees across Delhi and NCR, many are prepared for on-the-spot sales. A complete set (including Ravana and his kin) of five ft effigies cost Rs 1000 and goes upto One Lakh for 70 ft high one.

“Our raw material is sourced from Sadar Bazar but our work is confined to making of the structure. Fire crackers are stuffed into effigies by the organisers,” says Vijender Kumar, an effigy maker.

Interestingly, the left over effigies are fired right where they are kept, by the makers on Dussehra - even if they don’t find buyers.

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