Ruchika Garg, New Delhi: Who knew that even the all-powerful demon king Ravana won’t be safe in Delhi? Well,
unlike the king, his effigies don’t possess the same manic energy, and fall prey to the whims of the Capital. “Ram ne Sita ko bachaya tha, humein toh Ravana ko bachana padta hai,” says Sanjay Kumar, an effigy maker in Tatarpur, West Delhi. Like Kumar, scores of artisans make thousands of effigies every year at and believe that making effigies and keeping them in the open, invites a lot of problems.
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“If we make them during the day, it creates chaos on the roads and at night, youngsters drag them away on their bikes. It happens every day. I have to hire two people specially to safeguard the effigies. We have complained to the police about it but no action has been taken,” adds Kumar.Kumar is a disciple of Ravana waale baba who started the culture of making the effigies in the area. Like Kumar, all other dextrous artisans have learnt the art from him.
Vipin Chaudhary, another maker who has been in the business of making effigies since 1992, feels that it is not a profitable business any more. “We made 70 effigies last year and faced a huge loss due to this nuisance. People don’t cooperate with us. A lot of physical labour is involved, and no one thinks of that. We’re only making thirty effigies this year and will close down the business next year,” laments Chaudhary.
Chaudhary and his team of fifteen workers deliver the effigies in and around the cities. “The problem is not just the trouble makers who set the bamboo frames on fire. The prices we get are also not satisfactory. We can’t rely on this as a business. Two of my workers who safeguard the effigies at night are down with dengue. Now, I have to take rounds on my own,” adds Chaudhary.Other artisans are also planning to close down their business because of the trouble involved. “We take a lot of pain to make these effigies but for mischief-makers it is just a game. Not only do they break the bamboo sticks, they even burn the frames sometimes. When we try to chase them, they escape on their bikes. We are in the business for ages, we should allot a proper space to get rid of this problems,” says Poonam Kumar , another artisan.