At Khanwadi locality at Ramol in Ahmedabad, a house with the inscription “Ya Allah, Ya Mohammed” lies deserted, its gates locked. A few goats are tied to the main gate of the white single storey house, while inside the bounday wall, layers of dust have enveloped discarded furniture and an old motorcycle is gathering rust.
Usually this time of the year, Khanwadi, a small settlement with 1,000 households, brims with colourful effigies of Ravan and other Hindu mythological demons, often 10 to 12 feet in height. The effigies are then stuffed with fire-crackers and burnt on Dussehra at different public venues in Ahmedabad and other cities of Gujarat.
Neighbours, resting on their charpoys under the afternoon sun, lament that their mood has
been dampened ahead of the festive season as the “Ravan waley”, have not come this year.
“Ravan waley”, as the owners of this house are popularly known, is a family of effigy-makers from Agra of Uttar Pradesh who comes to Ahmedabad every year for four months during Dussehra. The family that has been into this profession for three generations is touted as the biggest effigy-makers in Gujarat. However, breaking a tradition of 35 years, this year, the family is not coming to Ahmedabad.
Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone, 45-year-old Sharafat Ali, the patriarch of effigy-making family from Kiraoli in Agra of Uttar Pradesh, says that he will not do any business this year. Every year during August, Ali with his two sons-Mohsin and Tohsin, wife and mother arrive at his house in Khanwadi. They also bring along 35-40 workers from their village to assist them in effigy-making.
“I made calls to my clients in Gujarat and some of them were willing to give me contract this year but the state government did not give permission. My family has been into the profession of effigy-making for three generations. My late father came to Gujarat for the first time in 1985. For 35 years, we have been making effigies for events… every season, we build at least 50-60 effigies. However, this is for the first time that I will not be able to visit Khanwadi,” said Ali.
The family is hopeful that by next year they will be back in Ahmedabad. “My two sons are in college in UP and come every year to assist me. I would like them to continue the family profession. We will soon visit our Khanwadi house.”
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