In Jammu, the Hindu dominated province of the only Muslim majority state of the country, the celebration of Vijay Dashmi is not complete without one Muslim family. As the effigies of demon kings Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnath are consigned to flames this evening, a Muslim family from Uttar Pradesh would cherish its fruit of labour going up in flames.
For the past 35 years, a Muslim family from Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh has been preparing the effigies of the demon kings to be used on the occasion of Vijay Dashmi. “When the effigies that we make are consigned to flames,
we feel a sense of reward as we make these effigies of the demon kings for being burnt on Vijay Dashmi”, Mohammad Gayasuddin, who heads the team of 40 artists, said.
“We are the only people who love to see their product being consigned to flames”, he said. He said the festival of Vijay Dashmi, which symbolises the victory of good over evil, is also an example of communal harmony and brotherhood in the country.
“People know that I am a Muslim and they welcome me with open arms as they love my art. The festival of Dussehra is a symbol of communal harmony and brotherhood in the country”, he said.
“The effigies made by us are used at several Dussehra grounds across Jammu region. People from as far as Rajouri,
Poonch, Doda and Kishtwar order these effigies”, he said. Gayasuddin, who along with his entire family and a group
of 40 artists arrive in Jammu a month in advance to make these effigies, say he is overwhelmed with the love and affection showered on him by the people of Jammu region.
Various Dussehra committees in Jammu region wait for the arrival of Gayasuddin and his team so that they can place their orders for the effigies of demon kings. “We have been celebrating Dussehra in our locality for the past 15 years and for the effigies are made by Gayasyddin and his team, we love his work”, Vikram Mehra chairman of the
Digiana Dussehra committee said. Gayasuddin says that whenever he comes to Jammu, he brings all the raw material from his native place as the same are easily available there.
“From the bamboo sticks used for the skeletons to the cloth, paper and color we bring it from our hometown as the
same is easily available there and helps save our time of searching for these items here”, he said.
He said that several Muslim families in his hometown have taken up the craft of making the demon effigies for Dussehra. “I have taught the art to my son and he would take over from me when I am no more. Money apart it is our contribution towards the communal harmony of the country”, he said.