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Craftsmen vie to make Dussehra effigies taller, brighter

Peeyush Khandelwal, Ghaziabad: The multi-coloured effigies of Ravan, Kumbhkaran and Meghnad are being

erected at various Ramlila grounds in the city for the Dussehra festival on Tuesday. Artisans and craftsmen have spent nearly a month to make the effigies which will be set afire on the festival.
Mohammed Dilshad, who is from Gulaothi, is busy erecting an 80-feet-tall effigy of Ravan at the Kavi Nagar Ramlila Ground. He has been making effigies for the past 30 years. “We have been staying at the Ramlila ground to prepare the three effigies for the past one month. We are on good terms with the committee members. This time, the Ravan effigy will be 80 feet tall while the Kumbhkaran will be of 75 feet feet tall. The effigy of Meghnad will be of 70 feet,” he said.
Dilshad says the effigy-making business has changed drastically over the years. He says the customers now demand more colourful and taller effigies. “Three decades back, when I started the work, the effigies were around 30-40 feet and no one asked for fancy decorations. Now, the faces have to be carefully painted and even other parts like hands, legs and crown need more details. We have put up LED lights worth nearly Rs 30,000 to make the faces of the effigies look stunning at night,” he added. Nearly Rs 10,000 worth of LED lights were also put up at the ‘Lanka’ effigy which was set to flames to signify the burning of ‘Lanka’ by lord Hanuman on Sunday.
This year, Dilshad’s son Adil has also joined him in making the effigies. Adil, who has cleared class 12, says he does not mind the work. “I am learning the art from my father like he did from his father and grandfather. This is a good time to display our craftsmanship. During the rest of the year, we survive on our decoration business,” Adil said.
At Kavi Nagar, the effigies this year are 5 feet taller than last year. The craftsmen say each year there is demand for taller effigies due to tremendous competition between various Ramlila organisers. “It is all about how much a committee is willing to spend. Our effigies will be nearly 70 feet high this time. We will also use crackers. Children and residents often tell us the way the effigies should be painted. We have to use different colours as per demand,” said Mohammed Anees, who is from Gajraula and has prepared the effigies for sector 10 Ramlila at Raj Nagar.
He says this year they will put nearly 300 crackers in the effigies. “Two decades ago, we would hardly use 40-50 crackers. The times have changed and so has the demand,” he ads.
Dussehra is celebrated across the country to mark the victory of good over evil. The effigies of the demon king and his two brothers will be set afire to mark their end by lord Rama.

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