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Muslim artisans from UP prepare effigies for Dusshera

These artisans, who have been lending their expertise from generations, have been working day and night to ensure that they meet the deadline of 13 October when the three figures will go up in flames.

‘Since the time Ramleelas have begun in the city, Muslim artists from Agra, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Saharanpur and Rajpura, have been coming here to make these effigies,’ said Govind Kumar of a Ramleela organising group.

More than 30 Ramleela groups get effigies of Ravan, Kumbhkaran and Meghnath, sized more than 60-feet, made by these artisans who reach the city 15 days or a month in advance for the final show.

According to Mukesh Sharma, who directs local Ramleelas, one set of these effigies costs Rs 2 lakh. ‘More than 30 or 35 groups celebrate Dussehra in the city. So you can imagine how much money is spent during the festivities,’ he said.

These artisans also experiment with a variety of effigies every year. ‘Last time, some artisans in Manimajra tried to make mobile effigies of Ravan, and some tried to make effigies that spat fire,’ said Mohammad Sahzad Alam, a Ramleela actor.

This year too they will be trying some new tricks of their craftsmanship to surprise the people. ‘It is a surprise element for audience as well as other artists. It is a test of our creativity, though a healthy and interesting one,’ said Salil Ahmed, an artisan.

On how it feels to see their hard work go up in flames, Salil said: ‘It is sad, but then it is made for that purpose and the fact that it brings smiles on so many faces washes away this feeling.’
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