October 8th, 2009 | Published in Portraits
Titarpur, West Delhi.
Photo © Mohit Gupta, All Rights Reserved
If one happens to pass through the lanes of Tagore Garden few weeks before Dussehra (aka Durga Puja, aka VijayaDashmi), one just can’t miss huge colorful effigies of Ravana in different stages of preparation which are piled up everywhere on the road. The ten headed antagonist made of bamboo stick and colored paper is just about everywhere here – on the metro crossing, on the dividers, both sides of the roads, virtually everywhere.
This is Titarpur, a colony of craftsmen famously known as Ravana makers (or Ravana wallahs). A day before Dusshera, they were in final stages of preparation and hundreds of effigies were ready to be transported to various parts of Delhi (and I hear that these even get exported out of India). These effigies are around 40 to 50 feet tall and are pretty well embellished with colorful paper. It’s ironic that for the families of Titarpur, Ravana brings good fortune – they make better money making these effigies than they make on their usual days – thanks to the skills inherited from their Ravan Baba, who is almost a legend in their village and one who supposedly started this tradition of effigy making in Titarpur nearly 50 years ago.