The gravest threat to demon king Ravana this season is not from two exiled princes of Ayodhya and their monkey brigade. The troublemakers happen to be a group of bikers in west Delhi's Tagore Garden. Effigy makers, catering to various Ramlilas in the city are in a predicament these days as parts of Ravana idols are being stolen by a gang of miscreants.
Idols in preparation for Ramlila at Tatarpur in west Delhi
55-year-old Mahinder says he feels disheartened when his creations are burnt on Dussehra. But he has a reason to feel even more devastated that his toil in creating the huge effigies is going down the drain, as pieces of them keep going missing.
Situated next to the Tagore Garden Metro station is Tatarpur, a hub of artists who create the Ramlila effigies every year. Mahinder and Subhash Ravanwale have been here for the past 35 years. They get orders from across the city, NCR and even out of town for delivering the idols this season. According to Mahinder, around 25-30 bikers - two people riding on one bike - have been frequently picking up random parts of their effigies.
An artist at work
Taken for a ride
"Just two days back, my workers and I were woken up by the roar of motorbikes. By the time we reached outside, we saw some young men on bikes driving off with two heads, one torso, a moustache and two ghagraas (skirts). It takes days and nights to make one single face or a body part and seeing these thieves taking them away, broke my heart," said Mahinder, who is a private tourist driver when the season is off.
Mahinder tried approaching the police to lodge a complaint about the theft. But he claims police officials refused to register an FIR. The next night his workers managed to catch hold of a couple of bikers and beat them up. "The police did not register our case, and we were depressed after that. But the next night, we caught a few of them. We beat them up, but they managed to flee from the spot," added the artist.
The Eco- Ravana
There are about 20-25 effigy manufacturers in west Delhi area who have been making effigies free from chemicals and harmful substances. This year, the use of plastic, iron wires, harmful colours and charcoal has been avoided. Chemicals have been replaced by fluorescent paper, natural colours and bamboo sticks.
Stiff upper lip: The head of the corruption effigy with a 16-feet
moustache at Tatarpur in Tagore Garden. PIC/Rajeev Tyagi
The fourth effigy
The unravelling of several scams in the recent past has inspired many Ramlila organisers to burn a fourth effigy symbolising the evil of corruption. One of the Ramlila committees of Subhash Nagar has ordered the Subhash Ravanwale, Tatarpur, for a 50-feet effigy with a 16-feet moustache to be made for the demon of corruption. "In years, this is the longest moustache, we have been ordered to produce. It will have 'Jan Lok Pal Bill in, Corruption out' written on it," said Subhash.