Gone are the days when Delhiites would get to witness giant Ravana effigies — with some as tall as 125ft — being burnt on Dussehra. Though the city is coming back to life, with the lowest number of Covid-19 cases in months, strict precautions are still in place to avoid the third wave of pandemic. With restrictions on social gatherings, Ravana effigy makers at Titarpur village are witnessing a lull in bookings. Situated between Subhash Nagar and Tagore Garden, the stretch is known to be one of the biggest markets to buy effigies of Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhakaran.
“Jo kaam pehle hota tha, usse toh aadhe se bhi kam hai! Ab woh bade-bade Ravana toh ban nahin rahe, sab chote he le rahe, 5-15-20ft ke… Humne price badha diya hai. Pichle saal 5ft ka ₹1,000 ka mil raha tha aur is saal hum ₹2,000 ka bech rahe. Jis material se banta hai woh bhi toh mehenga ho gaya hai,” says Sonu from Sonu Ravanwala, who’s prepping for Dussehra, which will be celebrated on October 15 this year.
The stretch that’d usually be full of effigy makers during this time of the year, now only has a handful of them. Even these few are not doing much business. “Hum pehle at least 90-100 Ravana banate they, ab hum sirf 25-30 bana rahe, woh bhi 5ft ke. Kya karein zyada bana ke, sale hi nahin hogi,” says Vicky Mahapatra from Amit Yadav Rawanwala.
In fact, some craftsmen are making these effigies only on pre-orders. “Hum toh bana hi nahin rahe the. Par phir 10-11 logon ke calls aaye, toh humne shuru kiya. Ab din raat kaam kar rahe hai taaki time pe ho jaye,” says Satpal from Satpal Ravanwala.
While the sale, storage and use of firecrackers is banned in Delhi, effigy makers say this isn’t a problem for small size effigies. “Chote Ravana toh paper aur bhusa laga kar jal jaate hai,” says Mahapatra, adding, “Is baar humne new designs bhi add kiye hain. Snake wale mukut aur seeng wale Ravana taaki logon ko kuch different lage.”