Uttar Pradesh is a crucible for the amalgamation of culture and religion. A unique blend of communal and social harmony is witnessed in Aligarh where Muslim artisans create effigies of the Demon King Ravana for their Hindu brethren. These effigies will be burnt on the last day of Dusherra after Navaratri.
These Muslim craftsmen have been making the effigies for the past 50 years. They have their hands full with orders from all over the city and adjoining towns and villages also.
In another town of the state, Varanasi considered as one of the holiest Hindu places; a Muslim family has been making effigies of Ravana, Meghnad, and Kumbhakarana for decades. It is a classic example of brotherhood and camaraderie among Hindus and Muslims.
Started by one Babu Khan, way back in 1960’s, the family has been making effigies of the Demon King, his brother, and son for generations. The celebration for Dusherra takes place at the Diesel Locomotive Work grounds. Arshad Khan is the current heir to this age old work said that his grandfather started this tradition to foster brotherhood between the two communities and he is continuing this tradition.
The work begins a month before the big day, and ten artisans work relentlessly to prepare the effigies of Ravana, Kumbakaran, and Meghnath also known as Inderjit. The height of the effigies are also according to their stature, Ravana being tallest at 75 feet, followed by Kumbakaran 70 feet and Inderjit 65 feet.
The artisans prepare the skeleton of the structure with Cane and Bamboos, and the body is made with quintals of paper, sutli or hemp rope, flour, more than 70 saris, watercolors and crackers which are placed last just before burning these effigies.
Transporting these gigantic effigies to the grounds is a tough task and requires help from the authorities. On the D-Day, these effigies are burnt to symbolize the victory of good over evil.