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Muslim artisan keeps Dussehra tradition going in Muzaffarnagar

Relatives have taken refuge with us. Dussehra is an important time for us as we make a lot of money but I haven’t received any orders yet.”

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | Muzaffarnagar |
October 14, 2013 3:42:52 am

Dussehra celebrations in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli were in doubt this year but Muslim artisans such as Shahnawaz,whose family has been making Ravan effigies in the districts for generations,decided to continue the tradition.

A number of Muslims in Kandla,Budhana and Shamli are involved in the trade.

Shahnawaz,who shares his name with the boy,Shahnawaz Qureshi,whose murder sparked the Hindu-Muslim clashes that killed around 50 people and displaced hundreds,said: “For me,this year is no different. When I heard about the boy being killed and then the two others,I felt I should do something. I decided to dedicate the effigies to peace,in the hope that they will inspire people to end hatred.”

His entire family is involved in the trade but this year is not about making money. For Shahnawaz,burning effigies,good defeating evil,has been a family tradition for decades and he wants to continue it despite the riots dampening the spirit.

“I grew up watching my father make these effigies and he his father. I have celebrated Dussehra with my sons every year. This year will be no different. I lost friends in the riots,others are without homes. This has never happened before. But I don’t want my son to grow up in a place where he can’t go watch Dussehra,” the Purkazi resident said,as his expert hands put together a giant structure with a face,eyes and nose. Gajendra Singh of Lisadh,on the other hand,said: “After the riots,it was difficult to get people to make effigies. We had to order effigies from

outside.”

In Budhana,Mansoor Khan said: “Relatives have taken refuge with us. Dussehra is an important time for us as we make a lot of money but I haven’t received any orders yet.”

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