Onset of festivities in India is predominantly marked by the approach of Dussehra by fall end. Dussehra, the festival signifies the killing of Ravana at the hands of Lord Shree Ram, emphasizes upon the victory of good over bad. In Jaipur, the roadside scenes are filled with ten headed yet colorful Ravana faces. The bamboo structures of varied heights and cost are beautifully swaddled in paper and cloth. The sight brings in a sense of euphoria to people of all ages.
While we revel in happiness and prosperity, we often miss out on the people who make our festivities come alive. Each bamboo Ravana holds the story of its maker beneath its sheets. On our trip around the city, we came across the bamboo artisans who move to Jaipur once a year in lieu of making their Diwali prosperous as well. Majority of these bamboo makers come from Pali and Banswara districts of Rajasthan whereas some in Mansarovar came from Narayanpura in Sanganer area. Using the art at hand, they create make-shift bamboo houses to live and as a testament of their skill these houses are capable of withstanding any weather. Efficiently crafted with windows and staircase, sometimes even two storied, these houses say a lot about the skill of its makers.
Moving along the south-west Jaipur from Mansarovar, Gujjar Ki Thadi, Vaishali Nagar, Chinkara, Sikar Road and Tonk Road, we came across many Bamboo Ravana makers with similar stories. A hearty conversation with some of them revealed how their living comes from bamboo tokaris (basket), furniture, roofs and others artifacts. The bamboo used comes from Assam which they are particular about. They share how even the government does not object to their makeshift houses during the season but post the festivities they have to move to nearby areas due to lack of business.
Finding out how they lighten up the festivals for general public, it brings into picture the Ravana of poverty and lack of skill recognition along with the Ram of opportunity and prosperity. Give it a thought when you see that glazed Ravana next time. Till then we wish you a Happy and prosperous Dussehra.
Images and information courtesy: Kriti Gupta, an artist