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Dussehra | The Making of Ravana in Ravana Mandi

Jaipur celebrates all festivals with vigor and fanfare including Dusshera or Vijayadashami. Dusshera is an Indian festival celebrated at the start of the festive season before Diwali. It is also known as Vijayadashami since it falls on the tenth day of Ashwin, a month in the Hindu calendar. This festival is associated with the winning of good over evil and is celebrated with the burning of an effigy of Ravana with fireworks. In India, the most famed Dussehra celebrations are at Mysore called Mysore Dassara. Dussera celebration in Jaipur is well-known and many tourists travel during Dussera season to experience the festive spirit in the city.

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Who was Ravana?

Ravana/ Rawan/ रावण was the prime antagonist in the Hindu mythological story of Ramayana. Ravana is considered as an able king from Sri Lanka and had ten heads. He abducted the wife of Rama, the chief protagonist of Ramayana. As per Hindu mythology, Ravana is associated with evil and Rama with the truth.

Also Read: Will Diwali shine on people this year?

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For years, people in Jaipur would congregate at community grounds where a huge effigy of Ravana would be alighted to mark the end of evil – killing of Ravana. Over the years, a new trend has emerged. Now people buy effigy of Ravana to burn it themselves. This has opened up a huge market to sell Ravana effigy. Jaipur has many such places where vendors, usually the makers themselves sell effigy to people. Such places are called Ravana Mandi.

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A road lined with Ravana for sale in Ravana Mandi, Jaipur

 

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Ravana also called Dashanand

Mandi means market in Hindi. The largest Ravana Mandi in Jaipur is at Mansarover. The roadside is lined with hundreds and thousands of Ravana effigies.

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Ravana’s for sale!

I recently visited a Ravana Mandi in Jaipur to get a first-hand experience. Newspapers reported a big fall in making & selling of Ravana effigies this year due to the downturn in the economy. The sellers attribute it to the Demonetization in 2016 and the recent introduction of GST which led to increased input costs.

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Unfinished & unsold Ravanas at Ravan Mandi, Jaipur

Vendors I spoke to said that they start making effigies a month before Vijayadashami. Most of them are from nearby state Gujarat and sell bed sheets and clothes to earn their living.

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Creators making a Ravana

Ravana effigies start at Rs 400 ( US$6 at current exchange level) for a small one &  going all the way to a hundred thousand Rupees for 20-30 feet one. Usually, people buy Ravana on the insistence of kids who are excited to burn an effigy. Some buy a big one to celebrate Vijaydashmi in their community or society.

Also readWhat makes Jaipur one of the best place to celebrate Diwali in India?

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A Ravana being given finishing touches by pasting butter paper

 

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Pasting paper on a Ravana/ Ravana Mandi, Jaipur

 

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An artist giving finishing touches to the Ravana effigy in Ravana Mandi Jaipur

 

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Sold! At Ravana Mandi Jaipur
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Work in progress! Ravana Mandi, Jaipur

 

Also Read: Will Diwali shine on people this year?

On the positive side, it provides an earning opportunity for poor people. But my concern is the pollution created by burning of Ravana effigies. Also, how long will we continue to do such things? Why can’t we burn the evil in us – humans?

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Ravana, with his brother – Kumbhkaran and Meghnad

My thoughts? I think humans have a duality. We must accept that we have an evil side too. Probably, we will never be able to eradicate it. Our best efforts will mitigate some of it. Then why create a false show of burning Ravana effigy?

Do let me know your thoughts about Ravana Mandi in Jaipur!

Also read: What makes Jaipur one of the best place to celebrate Diwali in India? 

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Ravana’s for sale in Ravana Mandi, Jaipur

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107 thoughts on “Dussehra | The Making of Ravana in Ravana Mandi

  1. What a fantastic way to describe this festival with colorful pictures. I love the way you have summed up this post arv… “But my concern is the pollution burning of Ravana effigies creates.”
    I absolutely agree with you. In the name of fun, religion and tradition, we have been causing the pollution, which has been throttling Mother Earth but no one has got the guts to burn traditions or evil within. Blessings for such positive thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There have been so many concerns lately. People say that if we stop celebrating festivals how will we carry them forward? I think whatever we are following are not the original practice. Most of them were adopted later. I’m sure making of an effigy with fireworks is not a 500 year old custom. Many commercial aspects have been added. Similarly colours used in Holi have far too much dangerous chemicals. Earlier only organic colours were used and people used to make it at home. We need to weed out all these elements. It is these aspects which is weaning people away and not the original concept in most cases. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your​comments are always so generous.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes we do both in London and in Mauritius, wherever there is a Hindu community. Navraatri and Dussera are celebrated with pomp and piety. Divali too. This year I will be in South India for the Festival of Lights.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I have heard a great deal about celebrations in Mauritius. London I heard is a bit diluted. Happy to hear that you will be in India to celebrate Diwali. Where are you celebrating Diwali in South India, Anita?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Many cultures attest to the fact that there is duality within ourselves. The battle field between good and evil is right in the middle of our heart. Thank you for not shying away from expressing your opinion on such important issues, Arv!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter, accepting it makes it easier. I’m sure when it is time for us humans to leave this world for another one, we will regret some of our actions, pain & suffering we inflicted. why should we wait for that moment? Let’s accept and at least make some of that right today! It is always great to hear from you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree 100%. If we wish to live in a better world, we must rise above complacency and help as much as possible our fellow human beings showing through our ACTIONS love and compassion. All great religions have this great command in common.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a compromise I think, Arv. I feel it is a great loss if we lose traditional celebrations, be it in India or UK or anywhere. They enrich our lives and cultures. But they have to change for many reasons – pollution might be one reason. perhaps there might be a new way.

    And i agree completely about human duality and the need to acknowledge it.

    A great post as always. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mick, I feel the current practices of festivals are not the original ones. For example, the firecrackers and effigy won’t be more than 100 year old whereas Dussera has been celebrated for centuries. Similarly, colours used in playing Holi have so much chemicals now whereas earlier they were all home made and organic in nature. The crackers being used in Diwali too must have evolved in last 50-60 years only. I’m sure there are enough customs and tradition which we can continue safely. We should be sensitive to other living species and mother nature. I like the fact that you have a considerate approach towards human customs and traditions. Certainly, this is what makes us unique. Thanks for offering your perspective, Mick. It’s always a delight to hear from you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s an interesting subject, Arv, because if we could look back into history and observe the various traditions being carried out, I think we would see them gradually change over hundreds and hundreds of years as different towns and villages occasionally altered the way they were celebrated. New things are invented or imported, and occasionally they will get incorporated into these festivals.

        I certainly agree with you about the various issues around the environment and safety, though. Time perhaps for some more changes?

        And as another rider, I find it fascinating to notice how festivals change in India over the year, in India, which is the land of the rigid and changeless ritual!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. well said. Your last few lines are interesting. Rigid and changeless? Yes and No! It is rigid because it resists all outside intervention. It is changeable when it is propelled from inside. From what I have observed and read over the course of time, when the caste system came into being and Brahmins became very potent force, the dynamism of Hindu religion took a plunge. I feel introduction of “middleman” has been low point of this otherwise evolved religion. In many ways, this may be controversial. But fact is most of the current rituals had nothing to do with the original ideology. For example, there is no sense of making cash donations to God! well, I can go on…..some other time, Mick! It is always interesting to exchange thoughts & ideas with you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, it would be fascinating to continue this another time. I’d always assumed that rituals carried on year after year unchanging and unchangeable, but I suppose the one thing that Hinduism lacks to actually keep the rituals universally rigid is a central authority figure, or do I misunderstand the structure? In that case, I suppose it is inevitable there will be an element of change over the years and millennia.

        Oops, that was meant to be for another time. One of us will have to put up a post to enable it!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ha ha! You are right. There are many parallel channels. To start with, there are three major lines in Hinduism _ Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti. All with their own ideologies. To be honest, for an outsider it will be very difficult to understand it easily. So partly, you are right. On the other, because of so many Gods and deities, it ensured that religion was a tolerant one – allowing everyone to be open to ideologies followed by others.

        I guess, we’ll find some or the other post to take it forward. Well, it will be even more interesting to exchange it in person! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love these colorful effigies, reminds me of my childhood days when we used to go to a huge ground to see the evil king being burned. People used to take away the bamboo sticks from the effigy and keep it in their homes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Sheeba! I guess we all have had those privileges and experiences. Because of huge crowd we would watch it from a distance…often sitting on car bonnet waiting for hours to Ramleela to get over…so the fireworks could start 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Atul. But we must revert back to the original practices which were environment friendly rather than bits and pieces we accumulated over last 100-200 years. I’m sure there are lots of good elements which we will enrich our experience. What do you feel?

      Like

  5. Ah! I feel the same…why create so much of pollution on the name of Ravan Dahan. Years back ppl started using it to symbolize win of good over bad but there is no need to do it now as everyone are well aware of that fact! I know many argue it as protecting our culture and traditions but forgets about the cost nature is paying (in long-term even we will) for our pleasures…!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keerthi, the tradition that we think is not the original one. Crackers are fairly recent developments. I’m sure we can follow some old and original traditions rather than our consumerist side. I’m sure you will agree. It can be a win win situation minus the cracker and Ravana maker lobby.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Our tradition was very different from current. We were using light of diya’s not the cham cham lights.
      We used to make flowers rangoli to welcome on our door not the plastic made of.
      Many things got changed.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I guess change is essence of human life. While some changes are good and necessary, other may not be! I agree moving to consumerist society is not great for our environment. Let’s hope people realize it fast before it is too late.

        Like

  6. What a great set of photographs Arv and the story behind explains so much.
    On November 5 people across the UK celebrate Bonfire Night, with small firework parties in back gardens and quite often large firework displays and a bonfire in public parks, usually with an effigy of a man called Guy Fawkes.
    In 1605 he led the plot to blow up King James and Parliament by planting barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of the parliament building. Unfortunately one of the plotters wrote to a friend not to attend parliament on that day and so the plot was discovered

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike, I have read about Guy Fawkes..but that was years ago.I never knew that you have an event that has something to do with him and fireworks. I’m sure he must be a villain in the eyes of public. Is this Bonfire night common across UK? or only in some specific places?

      Thanks for sharing this important bit from history. 🙂

      Like

    1. Thank you for making my day, Somik! I guess we are all learning. Even I learn something new everyday, Somik. Will be happy to help and share… let me know 🙂

      Like

      1. Yes. I do. You can find link to instagram at the end of each post. Alternatively, the feed to Instagram is present on right side of the page.

        Like

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