Agra: Muslim family makes Ravan effigies for Ramlila for five generations 

At the end of the event, the committee also felicitates Ali and his family.

PTIUpdated: Tuesday, October 04, 2022, 05:15 PM IST
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Muslim family is making Ravan effigies for Ramlila since five generations | Twitter Image

Agra: Every year, a month ahead of Dussehra, 75-year-old Jafer Ali and his family get down to the mammoth task of making effigies of Lanka king 'Ravan' and his brothers for the Ramlila here.

Ali, who belongs to the fifth generation of a family of artisans, said "We are invited by the committee members of Agra Ramlila to make effigies and for about a month we stay at Ramlila ground to complete effigies of different sizes."

At the end of the event, the committee also felicitates Ali and his family. "I have been in this profession since childhood. Now the fifth generation of our family is working in this profession. I used to come with my grandfather and father and now I am leading other family members and workers," Ali, the eldest among the artisans told PTI.

He has a family of 18 members and all are skilled in making effigies, he said. "In this year's Ramlila, which is taking place after a gap of two years due to COVID-19, Ravan's effigy is about 100 feet tall and those of his brothers Kumbhkaran and Meghnath are 65 and 60 feet tall, respectively.

The size of other effigies depends on the demand of the committee members," he said, adding that every year the size of the effigies differs.

"It takes about one month to complete the effigies, which are made of colourful paper, twine and adhesive made up of white flour and bamboo sticks," Ali said. He said his family is happy to come to Ramlila ground again after COVID-19, which affected the entire world.

"This year there is a wave of joy because we are able to showcase our skills," he added. Auli (45), another family member who helps Ali in making effigies, said, "The wages are different for each worker and vary from Rs 500 to Rs 700 a day. During this month-long event, more than 15 effigies and other designs are made by us as per the scenes in Ramayana."

Ali and his nephew Amir Ahmad (50) said they have never faced any kind of discrimination because of their religion, adding that nobody here treats them differently because of their religion.

"We work as if it is our home. Even children of our families come to watch the Dussehra celebration," Ahmad said. "The locals here love us. That is why my grandfather, father and I along with other family members have been coming here to make these effigies every year," Ali added.

The district Ramlila which began about a century ago attracts visitors not only from Agra but also from nearby Mathura and Firozabad districts as well.

Ramlila Committee president and Member of Legislative Assembly from Agra north seat, Purushottam Khandelwal said, "It is a century old annual event and was begun by Lala Kokamal at Rawatpara in Agra. After that it was shifted to Ramlila ground near Agra Fort."

It is a much-awaited annual event of Agra and continues for a month, he told PTI. "Ramlila, Ram Barat and Janakpuri events are the biggest events organised in north India and are quite popular among the people of Agra and nearby districts," he added.

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