Monday, September 21, 2009

Ravana o Ravana

Ravana being made and made up
The story of Lord Rama (7th incarnation of lord Vishnu) and his war with Ravana is a staple that almost all kids in India grow up with. The festivities that abound around the time and the holidays that accompany it are a source of major joy, happiness and cheer. It is the season of triumph of good over evil, of spring cleaning and sprucing, of shopping wearing new clothes and cracker bursting. And who can not but be a part of this hugely popular north Indian festival of diwali. Diwali or deepawali which translated literally means string of lights falls on the amavasya or the no moon night following dusherra. It is this festival of Dusherra, the precursor to Diwali, when the effigies of Ravana, kumbhakaran, and meghnath go up in the flames to the cheering and hooting of the crowds. This festival is also popularly known as vijaydashmi, vijay which when translated means victory and dashmi meaning tenth, as this falls on the tenth day of the lunar month of Ashwin, also the battle between Rama and Ravana lasted for ten days.
Well the making of the effigies of the three asuras that’s where my story really begins from. In the west of Delhi, a colony called Titarpur, is the Ravana colony. As this is the only place where most of the artisans who are crafting these effigies are based. A couple of days back my drive through the place on the main road turned out to be an exciting journey, spotting the bellies of the yet unstuffed Ravanas and his kin lying around all over set the mood. They were all over the place on the roof tops, either sides of the road even on the central verge. The Ravanas from here are supplied all over India and even exported. The twirl of the moustache, the glint on the eyes, and the smirk on the face on the effigies was really not to be missed. It was an eye-opener for the hubby, who was seeing this for the first time. He kept calling out time and again “o look there, and there and then there too.” Dusshera is a time for celebration for all these Ravanwallahs who are engaged in making these effigies, procuring bamboo sticks and other raw material starting from july onwards. And as this is a seasonal event the ravanwallahs are usually involved in something or the other the rest of the year to keep their income coming. However this is the time when the entire families and even friends are engaged in the making and decorating of the effigies. The rush and the continuous buzz of activity in this colony is un missable and a delight to watch. These effigies will go up in the flame on Dusshera and we will all be cheering and jeering at the demon king. And this will also be the time when these craftspersons will heave a collective sigh of well…. a sigh tinged with elation and that little regret of seeing their art go up in flames in a matter of moments. But well another dusshera, another day, and another hope isn’t that what we all live for and look forward to.
My son wanted a picture with Ravana and his big mooch (moustache). And poor ravana obliged, he did!

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