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At West Delhi’s Titarpur: Covid shadow on Ramlila, city’s Ravana effigy makers fear another lost year

Strips of bamboo are being measured, twisted and bent to make Ravana effigies forward of Dussehra in corners of West Delhi’s Titarpur, however the makers, harried by Covid-related restrictions on celebrations and gatherings, are anticipating one other 12 months of poor gross sales.

At Micheal Ekka’s roadside stall close to the Tagore Backyard Metro station, two staff have been handcrafting the bamboo frames that make the essential construction of the effigies on Friday afternoon. “We used to get orders for big effigies which can be 40-ft excessive when assembled. Since Ramlila occasions are unlikely to occur this 12 months additionally, we now have scaled down the scale of the effigies to between 5 ft and 15 ft. There have been barely any gross sales final 12 months and the worry of one other lockdown has prevented a few of us from hiring extra staff,” he mentioned.

The painstaking work of constructing the bamboo frames — one body for every a part of the physique — adopted by portray and ornament often begins at Titarpur a few month earlier than Dussehra however Micheal’s stall is the one one on the pavement for now.

Requests for customised Ravanas which have particular options — notably offended eyes or huge moustaches — was positioned commonly, some even from malls in Bengaluru, Micheal mentioned. This 12 months, identical to final 12 months, he’s but to get any such order.

Others like Bobby Mehra, who runs Shankar Ravanwale, mentioned they’ve been making effigies at dwelling. They’ve obtained orders on-line this 12 months from exterior Delhi, although demand inside the nationwide capital was low final 12 months and is unlikely to choose up this 12 months, Mehra mentioned. The revenue from the effigy sale at the moment of the 12 months must be supplemented by different work. Mehra, who has been making effigies for about 30 years now, takes up work as a driver for the remainder of the 12 months.

In one other nook of Titarpur, inside an MCD park, Poonam Kashyap is tying strips of bamboo collectively to make massive faces for the Ravanas. As she effortlessly splits bigger strips into thinner ones with a pointy knife, she identified that the work isn’t simple. “It comes with years of watching and studying from others who make it,” mentioned Kashyap, who has been at it for the previous 20 years. The park is often crammed with individuals who make the effigies, she mentioned, however on Friday, her household was the one one there.

Kashyap has assist from three siblings and has all the time loved creative work.

“Since we now have no different employment, the orders at the moment of the 12 months used to maintain us. However with little or no gross sales final 12 months, it has turn out to be troublesome,” mentioned Rema Pawan Kumar, Kashyap’s sister.

Rema’s husband makes effigies as properly and has no different supply of revenue, she mentioned. Final 12 months, they solely offered 5 effigies.

Arrowroot, paper, paint and ornamental materials are used to make the Ravana from the bamboo frames. At Titarpur, kids decide up the ability from older makers, Micheal mentioned. Kashyap’s daughter, nonetheless a toddler, tries to slit a bit of bamboo beside her.

Micheal himself has been making effigies for so long as he can bear in mind.

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