Titar Pur in West Delhi is the only market which makes effigies of the Ravana and supplies it, not only all over Delhi but also throughout India and abroad. There are about 30 manufacturers on either side of Titar Pur main road, who are now occupied with making enough effigies of Ravana to satisfy the demand from all over India.
The art of making effigies has traveled from Ghaziabad to Delhi and the credit goes to late Chuttan Lal Saini from Ghaziabad, who taught this art to his disciples. Mahesh and Subhash, two such disciples, have been in the business of making effigies for the past 35 years now. “I was about 18 years old when I first started assisting my Guruji in making the Ravana effigies. Earlier, the number of Ravanas that I made in a season went up to 150. But following escalating prices and narrow profit margins, I now make only 50 effigies every year,” says Mahendra. He says that in making an effigy 50 feet high, about 1200 feet of bamboo sticks are required. A 50 feet effigy is priced at Rs 7,100 but the customers always bargain. “Apart from Delhi, we supply effigies to Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. Earlier, the effigies were supplied to USA, Canada and Australia, but in view of the increasing terrorist activities, the supplies have now stopped,” adds Mahendra.
Dase, who is again a disciple, says that he has been making effigies for the last 20 years now. “I used to come to this market to meet my friend. Then I got interested and started learning how to make these effigies. I make about 50 effigies now,” he says. Even though his two sons, Ravi and Nitin, help him in the business, Dase wants them to take up government jobs as he doesn’t find his current line of work to be really lucrative. Since it is a seasonal job of two or three months, the income generated is not sufficient for the entire year. Dase earns about Rs 4,000 for 40 feet high effigies of Ravana. He supplies effigies to Ramleela committees in Paschim Vihar, Kalkaji, Saket and Lajpat Nagar in Delhi and also to Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. He also supplied effigies to Australia, till some time back.
Michael, another disciple of Saini, says that even though he is Christian by faith, he loves making Ravana effigies. “I was a Defence personnel and had to take voluntary retirement because of an accident. I learnt this art from Saini and for the last 11 years, I have been making effigies. It is difficult to count the numbers that I have sold every year,” he says. Michael says that it takes him four to five days to complete one 50 feet high effigy of Ravana. However, he gets only Rs 5,000-6,000 for one effigy. He uses bamboo stick, old cotton sarees and brown paper to make an effigy. The crackers in the effigy are stuffed by the organisers as per their choice. He also sells raw materials required for making effigies. Michael supplies effigies to Shalimar Bagh, Ashok Nagar, Gol Dak Khana, and places in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. He is helped by Rajender in making of effigies. Rajender learned this art when he was about 12 years old. Once the Dusshera season is over, Michael runs a small tea shop in Titar Pur.
Dusshera is a maddening time for these manufacturers. The effigy-makers say that the demand for the Ravanas keep pouring in till the last moment and they have to pump all the manpower and resources available in meeting the demands. The raw material for the effigies is procured from various parts of Delhi. Bamboo sticks are procured from Samaipur Badli in North Delhi and brown paper is purchased from Rampura.