|Demon-Maker: Mohammed Jafar Alam prepares effigies for Dussehra on Bihar Co-operative Federation Society campus in Patna on Thursday.
Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh
The organisers of Dussehra in Patna have invited artisans from Gaya to prepare the effigies of Raavan, Kumbhakarna and Meghdoot this year to prevent last year’s embarrassment when the idols of the demons did not burn properly.
Shree Dussehra Committee — responsible for organising the ceremonial burning at Gandhi Maidan — has called upon the services of Mohammed Jafar Alam and his eight-member team instead of Banaras Hindu University alumnus Ashok Kumar Sudhakar, who had the job for the past 18 years.
Sources said the decision was taken because last year the effigy of Raavan tilted and the other two did not burn properly. The secretary of the committee, T.R. Gandhi, said: “Something went terribly wrong last year and we became the butt of all jokes. That’s the reason we have not called the same person to make the effigies this year.”
The artisans assigned the job are already busy at work on the Bihar Co-operative Federation Society campus near Patna Museum. “I have been making effigies for Dussehra in Gaya for the past 33 years. I learnt the art from my father,” said Alam. “We have never faced any problem.”
Alam, 42, said: “I have been given strict instructions by the committee members that an incident like previous year should not recur. There are two things that one must be careful about — first, making the effigies stand straight; second, fixing the crackers in the effigies.”
Setting up the effigies is a challenge: while the height of Raavan would be 65ft, Kumbhkaran and Meghdoot would stand tall at 60ft and 55ft respectively. Around 100kg paint, 50kg paper and 200 bamboo sticks are being used to construct these.
Last year, the legs of the Raavan effigy had collapsed twice and the workers were only able to prop it up on bamboo. Even then, it had burnt only for a few minutes. The letdown at the event — that will be organised for the 57th year on October 24 — had allowed RJD chief Lalu Prasad to take a jibe at the government. He had said the effigies did not burn because of the rampant corruption in the state.
Sudhakar, who was in-charge of the effigies last year, said: “I don’t want to comment on the programme last year. I am not disappointed that I have not been given the job this year. But everyone should take collective responsibility for what happened. I only hope the programme goes smoothly this time.”
Sources said the event might not have a smooth sailing this year either. “As the chief minister’s Adhikar Rally is scheduled on November 4, we have not been given enough space to organise our programme,” said a member of Shree Dussehra Committee on the condition of anonymity.
He added: “The authorities have instructed us not to take up more space than what we have been allocated. Naturally, there would be a space crunch. But they are more concerned about the CM’s rally than Dussehra.”