For 46-years he has smiled when his creations goes up in flames

Father a master craftsman in Lahore used to be fondly referred as ‘Lahori’ Ram

Rashmi Talwar/Amritsar

October 4, 2008———
On Thursday, the 9th of October, Harbans Lal (62) would see his month long hard work go up in flames ,he would smile and also ‘rejoice’ along with thousands of onlookers that the evil creation has been destroyed in full public view.
Harbans, has been a master craftsman for over 46 years in making of effigies of Ravan, Meghnath and Kumkaran—symbolic of the evil brothers who are set aflame on every Dussehra festival as a symbol of destruction of evil and the dominance of good, as enshrined in Epic Ramayana and celebrated for eons .
Talking here to The Pioneer Harbans says although he earns a measly sum of Rs 150 of labor daily, for the month that takes to form the three big effigies, he not only enjoys his work but is never disheartened as he holds religious sentiments for this work along with familial ties with the creations. His three sons also help him.

Harbans says his father ‘Lahori “Ram” too was a master effigy maker before partition and had created effigies over the years in Lahore, Pakistan during un-partitioned India when Dussehra was celebrated with much gusto in the open parks of Lahore, that had a sizeable Hindu population, He was fondly referred to as ‘Lahori “Ram” –(the Ram of Lahore who killed Ravan –the evil), Harbans explains affectionately
While the effigy of Ravan would zoom upto 90 feet, the other two would remain as at 70 feet each.
The three effigies cost a total of about 4.5 lakhs contributed by people. As much as 350 metres of cloth, quintals of paper including colored paper , 10 quintals of bamboo, 30 kilos of seba (jute) and 7000 patakas in each, make up the effigies that takes only a maximum of 5 minutes to be reduced to dust, at the crack of dusk on Dussehra Day.

Last year was the first for him when one of his effigies lost balance but was handled deftly with cranes , says Harbans .
At other times of the year Harbans along with his sons Naresh , Ashwani and Deepak make different sizes and shapes of kites including patangs, pari’s, paddar , gudda and others . In the lean period they sell ‘amm pappar’ (mango preparation ) and others eatables he adds.

“But making Butts (effigies) remains my first love since I was 17 years old and helped my father make them” says he .


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