Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Demon Makers

Each year, as the monsoon retreats out of Delhi, a motley bunch of people start making their way into the city. Armed with little more than bamboos, old newspapers, discarded sarees, starch and coloured paper, they bring to life a sleepy corner of Delhi - Titar Pur. They set about building an army of India's most celebrated villain - the Demon King Raavan.

Coming from various parts of North India and in any other part of the year they make sundry - items like wicker baskets, furniture - even funeral items. But the weeks leading up to the Dussehra festival are their chance to reap in the windfall. As the country prepares to burn thousands of effigies of Raavan at the end of the Navratri festival.

For years I have been watching them go by their jobs, and I am happy to report that even in the Playstation era,their number keeps growing as the demand for these effigies scales new heights each year. Each year, they effigies keep getting taller and pricier, the going rate this year for the fanciest ones is more than Rs. 1 lakh ($2200 approx)

Here are some images from a wonderful evening spent among the Demon Makers

A young boy applies starch to old rags which are stuck on top of a frame made of bamboo sticks to give the basic shape to the effigy

Layers of old newspapers topped with shiny coloured paper are then pasted on the top to add razzmatazz, followed by elaborate painting of those demonic eyes and nasty teeth

The influx of these effigy makers proves to be a windfall for the local chaiwallah, who does roaring business late into the night

The colourful effigies are built practically on the roadside and are an attraction for many a passerby, including this young mother and her baby

This young lady however, isn't impressed so easily

The legend of Raavan does not impress the local canine either, who promptly lets the demon know who's the boss in these parts

This strapping gent's moustache isn't just for fashion. He plays the role of Raavan in a local Ramlila, the ritual enactment of the legend of Ramayana. In real life though, he's a cop and was here shopping for an effigy that could meet his lofty standards

Wedding bands are the permanent residents of this neighbourhood and practice for the upcoming wedding season has begun in full earnest as well

A finished effigy has been bundled off in a lorry for assembly. It'll be fitted with thousands of firecrackers before it meets its fiery end of Oct 17th

As dusk falls, finishing touches are being applied to dozens more

As the day winds down, commuters wait for their buses and Raavan has just two more days to go

Night comes, the local barber shop is still going strong as are the demon makers

The city rolls on, and a little Raavan contemplates its fate

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Urm...the last photo...with its zoom motion effect, looks a wee bit scary :)

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